Tamburlaine, touring <br></br> Macbeth, Almeida, London

Big, bad boys on the make

His cast, in jackboots with wooden crates for props, simply slip into ethnic robes, with scimitars raised to signal battles. The tortures inflicted on captives have Abu Ghraib-style reverberations. But Greg Hicks' mannered verse-speaking in the title role, with quivering sostenuto, doesn't genuinely capture the bounding glories of the poetry. Jeffery Kissoon is also pseudo-operatic as his booming enemy, Bajazeth.

Let's hope Stephen Dillane's riveting one-man Macbeth returns for an encore after its all-too-brief Almeida run this week. Dillane's pale dictator, in a suit and bare feet, plays out his rise and fall as if caught in some eternal psychological hell, possessed by a host of voices, pacing in black sand and crouching against a white (maybe asylum) wall. The female characters are reduced, with a fey French Lady Macbeth, but the regicide's hallucinations become evermore fascinating, many line-readings are startlingly new and, physically, the ghostly slide of one character into another is electrifying. KB

'Tamburlaine': Barbican, London EC2 (0845 120 7500) Weds to 19 Nov

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