Two ways to do Shakespeare? Really?
Must admit my jaw dropped when I read the opening line of Tim Walker's review of Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studio's: "When it comes to performing Shakespeare, the choice has long been traditional costume or grunge."
Either a sub with a grudge has hacked at his copy, omitting some sort of explanation of this sweeping statement (perhaps he just means Macbeth productions?) or he hasn't seen many productions of Shakespeare.
Firstly what exactly is 'traditional costume'? If Walker is referring to 16/17th century dress, well there aren't that many of them these days - the Globe seems to be single-handedly keeping ruff-makers in employment.
So that leaves everything else. There wasn't anything grungy about the Las Vegas set/casino-themed Merchant of Venice I saw and what about the many suited and booted productions of Hamlet, Richard III and Othello. I've seen second world war themes, Victorian themes plays performed in costumes of the period in which they are set and as for The Tempest designers pretty much demonstrate free-rein.
I have only seen three productions of Macbeth including the grungy Trafalgar Studios production Walker refers to. The first was a Cheek By Jowl production and was clean modern dress, neat military jackets, black t-shirts with black military fatigues. The second was by the RSC a couple of years ago and was a hybrid conservative Jacobean dress with medieval and modern flourishes. The only grunge was in the murder and Macbeth's dress as it became dishevelled to match his mind.
The only other thing I can think of is that Walker means something else by grungy.