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 NovReuse content