Theatre Review: Macbeth

Presented by Independent Theatre
Reviewed 5 August 2021

Macbeth is a five-act tragedy which Independent Theatre have managed to pare down to two hours with no interval. Amazingly, unlike other productions I have seen, nothing seems to be missing, any cuts have been judicious, and the bard’s language has been preserved. Above all the feel of the play is wonderfully present, performed on a raked stage which boasts a blood red square, for the action, and dark and gloomy shapes to represent other scenery. Coupled with a good lighting plot and an appropriate soundscape, this telling of the tragedy of ambition holds the audience rapt.

Rob Croser and David Roach often create interesting sets, sometime from apparently very little, as in this instance, but to achieve director Croser’s idea he has a hand in lighting and sound, on this occasion with assistance from Bob Weatherly (lighting). Croser always casts well and his choice for the main roles is fitting. Matt Hyde is everything Macbeth should be, displaying all the ambition, doubt and regret the character embodies. As Banquo, Steve Turner is the level-headed counter to the quick silver of Macbeth, his appearance and disappearance at the banquet is ethereal. The hags, played by Pam O’Grady, Lynn Wilson and Emily Bleby evoke magic and the strangeness that would have enveloped them in Shakespeare’s day.

The Bard’s women are notoriously difficult to play (they were written for men after all) but Rebecca Kemp gets inside Lady Macbeth’s character and makes her real. Likewise, Lynn Wilson gives a fine performance as Lady Macduff and coupled with Elliott Purdie makes their scene a highlight. Shedrick Yarkpai also was great as Macduff bringing complete silence from the audience during the revelation of his family’s death. Greg Janzow made an amusing porter and a very serious doctor, whilst David Roach, always the chameleon, doubled as King Duncan and the shepherd. In general, the cast was very good and kept the pace well. In fact, I hardly noticed that there was no interval.

As usual Independent have presented a strong production of a difficult play. Its good to see Shakespeare being treated with respect.

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: Goodwood Theatre
Season: 4 – 12 Aug 2021
Duration: 2 hr (no interval)

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