Macbeth is a notoriously unlucky play — both in terms of a reputed ill fortune generally associated with it (hence the theatrical tradition of referring to it as "The Scottish Play," in an attempt to thwart fate) and in terms of being a difficult play to pull off onstage.
Sonia Friedman seems to have neatly sidestepped the general bad luck, and in a spectacular way — Macbeth, starring Sean Bean and Samantha Bond, previewing at the Albery from Nov. 7, has, backstage whispers tell us, received the largest ever box-office advance for any of the ATG-owned theatres, with the sole exception of Madonna in Up for Grabs, a play that was also produced by Sonia Friedman.
Although the real test is the performance and not the box office, this bodes very well for Macbeth, as does the casting. Sean Bean has a craggy masculinity that seems ideally suited to the role of an ambitious Scottish aristocrat who overcomes his initial doubts and basic decency in order to murder his way to the throne; while Samantha Bond's cool, intelligent sexuality is perfectly suited to that of Lady Macbeth, whose early ambition gives way, eventually, to a guilt-struck madness.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow