Social Media

Adam Best - Macbeth (an undoing) Interview

Zinnie Harris’s acclaimed play Macbeth (an undoing) is heading out on the road. This new adaptation of the Scottish play makes its London premiere at the Rose on 8 March where it runs through 23 March, then moves to New York (5 April to 4 May) and Edinburgh (14 to 25 May), where it originally premiered at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in February 2023.

The full cast includes Nicole Cooper (Lady Macbeth), reprising her ‘deep, rich, and fascinating performance’ (The Scotsman), Adam Best (Macbeth), Emmanuella Cole (Lady Macduff/Mae) Liz Kettle (Carlin), Thierry Mabonga (Macduff/Doctor), Marc Mackinnon (Duncan/Murderer 2), Taqi Nazeer (Bloody Soldier/Lennox), Star Penders (Missy/Malcolm), James Robinson (Banquo), and Laurie Scott (Ross/Murder 1).

Ahead of the run we sat down with Adam Best who plays Macbeth to discuss the piece in more detail.

Where did your performing journey begin?
School plays throughout my education pretty much. I did youth theatre bits around the North of Ireland too. My first role was when I was 5 and it’s reasonable to chart a course from that role- a sunbeam- to jobs I’m lucky to get now. 

How did you approach a career in the arts?
I just sort of kept trying. I didn’t know anyone else with a career in the arts so I didn’t have any expectations to be honest and also, really, the formal training I had didn’t offer anything about the “career” aspect, just about stagecraft as such. So I just trained, moved to London and went to auditions when I got them. There was no approach, no plan. Still isn’t, to be honest. I just bugger on.

What attracted you to this role and show?
Hahahaha the role of Macbeth in a new version from Zinnie Harris! There’s nothing beyond that needs said. I’m fortunate to have worked with Zinnie a few times and, broadly speaking, when she asks you to work for her, you just do. We first made (an Undoing) last year and when word came that there was an opportunity to do it again at the Rose and in Brooklyn, well. There was no question that I wanted to be back with the production. We have a great company, I reckon. Working to support Zinnie’s words and Nicole’s Lady M is a blessing.

This production puts Lady Macbeth at the centre of the story, how do you feel this affects the story?
It changes the story entirely. It’s not a version of Macbeth in any sense that an audience will have ever seen. It’s a new play.

Why do you believe ‘The Scottish Play’ has endured and remains so popular?
Because it’s so good. I think it’s easy to overanalyse and talk about themes STILL BEING SO RELEVANT TODAY, but you don’t even need to go into it. Shakespeare wrote an absolutely banging play full of interesting characters and simply, for me, good stories endure.

What do you think the production says to a modern day audience?
I don’t know to be honest and I don’t think it’s for me to guess what the individuals that make up the audience will make of it or take from it. I know what it says to me, but I know the play inside out and am *still* making discoveries. All one can hope for, I guess, is that they’ll enjoy a familiar tale told with a different purpose.

Nicole Cooper as Lady Macbeth and Adam Best as Macbeth. Photo by Stuart Armitt.

How do you prepare for a show?
I eat an early lunch and then nothing else pre-show. I like to get to the theatre about 6 o’clock. I have several songs that I listen to loudly in my ears which are not show specific. They are “Shut Up” by Stormzy, “Fix Up, Look Sharp” by Dizzee Rascal and “He Doesn’t Know Why” by Fleet Foxes”. This ritual is unchanged across several productions over a good few years now. I sing/speak along to the first two tracks as I find they serve a vocal warm-up well. If I can get my diction correct on grime music, I should be able to wrap my gums around Shakespeare/Harris. The third one, “He Doesn’t Know Why”, I listen to because I was listening to it one time by chance when something was happening that has accidentally taken on some meaning. It has become a song that I listen to to remind me that I am fortunate to be working in a job that I love. I think that’s broadly a good thing to do, especially when one is in the throes of the run of a show. It’s a job, of course, but for me it’s also vocational and when I’m doing it it’s important for me to remind myself of that. Especially in shitty times when I’m missing my family or friends, yknow? Aye.
I also yell along to Richard Dawson’s track “The Scientist”, as it gets the blood up.
I have a specific playlist that I made with Nicole Cooper that I play whilst I’m getting my costume on. I have a shower and brush my teeth before every performance. I’ll even shower before a matinee, despite probably having only showered before I left home/digs a couple of hours previously. This might sound decadent, I don’t mean it to. Sometimes I will drink a coffee or a can of full sugar pop. 
On this show we have generally checked in with each other ahead of the half hour call. If you can remember and it suits everyone’s other commitments, I do feel it’s good that the first time you see a colleague that day isn’t onstage when the show’s up.

If you could have dinner with 3 famous people, who would you invite and why?
At this point, if I was allocated a fantasy dinner party, it’s unlikely that I would select anyone who wasn’t a pal who I don’t see often enough or, honestly, my wife and daughter who I’m away from for this job. To be fair, my daughter’s not even 3 yet and as such isn’t a huge amount of craic at dinner as she tends to shovel her tea down her and then ask to go and do something more interesting with a toy dinosaur or an ipad or playdough. It’d be nice to sit down with Sarah, though. 
If I was pressed on the famous people, however, I’d probably go for the musician I mentioned earlier, Richard Dawson, who I would aggravate with questions about how he writes his lyrics, the outgoing Liverpool FC manager Juergen Norbert Klopp, who I would aggravate with praise for his role in making me enjoy Premier League football again and Zinnie Harris, who I’d aggravate with thanks for her giving me a role in her play Macbeth (an Undoing)

Nicole Cooper as Lady Macbeth and Adam Best as Macbeth. Photo by Stuart Armitt.

If you could ask Shakespeare one question, what would you ask him? 
“Would you like a drink, mate?”

If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be a why?
Hobnob. Much nicer than they look

What do you hope an audience member takes away from seeing the show?
Something to talk about. The desire to see another play next week. The sense that expectations can be challenged rather than met. Mainly, though, I hope that they just had a good time. Or, if they had a bad time, that it wasn’t because of me hahahaha

Macbeth (an undoing) runs at Rose Theatre in Kingston from 9th until 23rd March 2024, Theatre For A New Audience in New York from 5th April until 4th May 2024 and at Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh from 14th until 25th May 2024. 

Post a Comment


Theme by STS