How to Play Lady Macbeth? Imagine Being Mauled by Tigers

Photo: Richard Termine/Courtesy of BAM

Kate Fleetwood, who plays shady Lady Mac in the excellently scary British production of Macbeth that opened on Broadway last night after a sold-out run at BAM, didn't threaten us with violence after the show the way her co-star Patrick Stewart did the other day. Not that her mind can't go that way. The production is set in a dank basement kitchen that players enter via a sinister elevator. "Before I descend in the lift [for the famous "Out, damn spot" mad scene], I can't even repeat what goes on in my brain," she told us. Repeat, repeat!, we demanded. "I was thinking about the Hyrcan tiger that Macbeth mentions and imagining it ripping my arm off. Okay? Also, there's a really nasty conveyor belt suspending the lift. It's really ugly and industrial, and sometimes I imagine I'm lying on it and being thrown in the horrible motor. It's Gothic! But the language requires you to be in the moment," she added. "It's very muscular."

Not that she doesn't psychologize her obliquely written part just a bit. "I became a mum two and a half years ago," she said. "Lady Macbeth had this unknown baby. Who's this baby that she talks about? 'I've given suck, and know how tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me.' Possibly from a previous marriage." She had her own baby, by the way, with her husband, Rupert Goold, who directs the show. Does she ever need to goad his career along in a Lady Mac–ish fashion? "No, no, no!" she insisted. "I'm quite old-fashioned actually, as a wife and mum. I really like making Sunday luncheon and watching him play with the baby while I'm making the roast potatoes." —Tim Murphy