An interview given by RSC artistic director Michael Boyd has confirmed that Jonathan Slinger is to star in a production of Macbeth that Boyd is directing as the first offering in the company’s 50th birthday season at the rebuilt Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Slinger’s series of memorable performances in the RSC History Cycle, topped by his monstrous Richard III, left no doubt that his career was one to watch very closely.
So it has come to pass that he has been handed the ultimate bad guy role in a landmark production that should set the tone for the RSC’s onward journey.
But what we will be seeing next April will not be a shot in the dark with a new space being road tested by ingénues finding their way around an unfamiliar structure.
More than four years of experience has already been gained from work at the Courtyard, the prototype thrust stage theatre from which the new RST has effectively been cloned.
This means that the first production designed for the RSC’s brave new world will be in fact the latest iteration of a formula that has already been garnering praise for quite some time.
Slinger himself was there right at the start of the Courtyard period and has accumulated considerable experience of the new thrust stage environment from his History Cycle work.
The launch of the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre with a rip-roaring epic like Macbeth; an actor cast in the title role who has already thrilled theatregoers gathered around a thrust stage with his scarily powerful interpretations of Shakespearean villains; and this in a space designed to promote an intimate relationship between cast and audience: it all looks like a grand way to begin a new era.