I had so much fun doing the comparison of Macbeth's "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" monologue a few days ago, I thought I'd do something similar with a few actresses who have played Lady Macbeth. I've chosen the famous "sleepwalking scene" as an example of how different actresses have approached this last scene in which the character appears.
First, one of the finest performances of the role was from Dame Judi Dench in Trevor Nunn's production of Macbeth that was filmed in 1978. Dench is fabulous in this scene, particularly in her long, drawn out screech towards the end of the scene (beginning around the 3:20 mark in the video). This is a remarkable performance.
My favorite Lady Macbeth of all the versions I've seen is probably Kate Fleetwood, who played the role in Rupert Goold's production of 2010 (the one starring Patrick Stewart as Macbeth). Fleetwood's transition from a cold, cruel woman in her earliest scenes to this neurotic, broken woman in the sleepwalking scene is amazing to see.
Finally, we have the very understated performance of Marion Cotillard in the 2015 film of Macbeth. Cotillard's Lady Macbeth begins the film as a broken woman, in a non-Shakespearean scene at the beginning of the film, where she and Macbeth are burying a child. Although her performance lacks some of the power of Dench's and Fleetwood's renditions, there is a quiet beauty to her acting that has its own value.
So there you have it: three very different performances of a powerful scene (perhaps one of the finest moments of any female role in all of Shakespeare). Once again, it's amazing to me how differently various actors can approach the same scene. I would love to hear from others, as to who their favorite Lady Macbeth is (or was). Thanks for reading (and watching).
(adj.) wild and frenzied; from Greek κορυβαντες (Korybantes)