Ahead of the Macbeth season, Dylan Watson tells us about the parallels he sees between this play and the world we live in.
What is Macbeth about?
It’s definitely about ambition and how ambition plays into man’s will – what he chooses to do with it and how he chooses to use his power and corruption. As the saying goes, ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ It’s also about man’s relationship with fate and about man’s desire to take fate into his own hands. We talk about nature being this ever-present thing that no one has any control over. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are constantly running against it.
How do you perceive and embody your central character?
Seyton is the character I spend most of the time playing. He is effectively Macbeth’s right-hand man when he needs dirty deeds done. I see Seyton as a man with absolutely no judgement, a man who believes wholeheartedly in his job and what he has to do in protecting the King, who is his captain. He’s been with Macbeth for quite some time and he’s now playing a larger role. I think he wholeheartedly believes he’s doing the right thing. Everything he does is for the greater good of his country. He doesn’t set out to be a baby-killer, but if that’s what he’s got to do for the stability of his country, then he’s willing to get his hands dirty for the greater cause.
What do you find interesting about Simon’s interpretation of Macbeth in relation to where this play is placed?
The only real comparison I can think of is a political one. Probably more so with the state of the American political system at the moment, with a man who may not necessarily deserve to be in a position of power, who’s elevated through whatever means necessary, and once he’s there, political bodies start to pile up. People unexpectedly lose their jobs. With war being an ever-present factor of this play, that is really quite a contemporary theme for us. We’re quite deaf about what’s happening in places like Syria and all over the Middle East. Even in places like Papua New Guinea where there is systematic slaughter and it’s a part of everyday life – that’s sort of how it feels in Macbeth. We know that there is tension and there is war, but here we all are trying to have a banquet and celebrate.
What do you love about Shakespeare?
I love the characters’ relationships to nature. The characters in his plays communicate directly with gods and with nature, and have this belief that these forces will listen to them. I love the sense of scale that this adds and the use of language that conveys that.
Macbeth plays at Southbank Theatre from 5 June. Book now.