Review: Macbeth

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Watching 12 South Theatre Company and GreenDoor Theatre Company’s collaborative production of Macbeth was a wonderfully atmospheric treat; a tastefully executed performance accompanied by an incredible cohort of some of Durham’s finest singers. Staged by candlelight in St Chad’s Chapel and wonderfully directed by Samantha Dotson (Assisted by Laurence Davidson), Macbeth was a delight to watch.

The space itself was very well used, with actors using all available entrances and exits as they commandeered the candle-lit chapel. The Witches in particular were very strong in their movements – using well-characterised mannerisms as they prowled around the chapel chanting their lines. The chosen space also lent itself brilliantly to the setting of the play, with the more gothic qualities of the chapel playing into the period setting of Macbeth. Although the setting of the performance was brilliantly atmospheric, I feel that the costumes, a disjointed blend of informal modern clothing, detracted from this a bit. I felt similarly about Macbeth’s gloves which, although I imagine were worn to symbolise his fall into tyrannical violence, were a bit distracting.

While the plot of Macbeth is inherently rather dark and intense, the cast did very well in balancing this with moments of comedic relief

Amongst the performers, was truly a standout actress. Wonderfully expressive in her monologues and chillingly intense throughout, her Lady Macbeth was beautifully depicted. Her acting came with a great depth, and she embodied the duality of Lady Macbeth – shining in moments of tenderness as well as moments of ruthless ambition with a sincerity that was utterly captivating. George Thomas’ performance as Macbeth also shone throughout the performance. His delivery was excellent throughout, and created a brilliant dynamic between himself and Mark – the two capturing the nature of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s relationship incredibly well, dealing impressively with the drastic shifts in tone throughout the play. Both actors commanded the space brilliantly and were a joy to watch.

The supporting and featured characters of this play must also be appreciated for their wonderful performances. Their acting was engaging throughout the entirety of the show, and characterisation between multi-rolled characters was very well acted, differentiating mannerisms and speech as they shifted roles. This being said, I feel that this production would have benefited from a larger cast, as multi-rolling was confusing at times, especially by characters that had died in a scene before.

I was very impressed with the precision of the audio cues, and the lighting combined with the fog machine was minimalistic but effective – ’s hard work as production manager was evident throughout the show.

While the plot of Macbeth is inherently rather dark and intense, the cast did very well in balancing this with moments of comedic relief. Emilia Lewis, playing the Porter, was especially humorous in her portrayal. With masterful comedic timing, she had the audience giggling amongst themselves in her scene, and even more so in her interaction with MacDuff, played by Ross Patey. Despite it being but a small interaction between their characters, Lewis and Patey shared a superb control of comedic timing and pacing that made their scenes, whether together or separate, a thoroughly amusing watch. As well as his control of comedic timing, Patey must also be applauded for his charisma in his portrayal of MacDuff. Patey and Harry Threapleton, playing Malcolm, were two consistently admirable performers with a remarkable stage presence; steady and commanding in their portrayal of their respective characters, with consistently delivering in his authenticity and expressiveness in every role he tackled in this performance. Edward Clark, Katie Bainbridge, and also stood out in their acting, bringing intensity and intention to their roles. Noah Lazarides, in particular, provided a striking contrast between the characters he played and was brilliantly commanding and assertive in his portrayal of Duncan. At times, it felt that other members of the cast struggled to shake off some more modern mannerisms, lacking conviction in moments of intensity as they fell into more casual stances. Despite this, the cast overall worked very well together.

The space itself was very well used, with actors using all available entrances and exits as they commandeered the candle-lit chapel

One cannot discuss this show without also mentioning the backing vocals. Led by the brilliant Musical Director Daniel Hicks, this performance was accompanied by a group of breathtakingly skilled choral singers. A particularly memorable moment was the choral piece that accompanied the opening of the second act. The music matched the intensity of the scene perfectly, and the choir beautifully complemented both the pacing and tone of the dialogue, creating a delightfully atmospheric space for the performance. The incorporation of choral singing was incredibly tastefully done, making this production much more immersive and haunting.

As a whole, 12 South Theatre Company and Green Door Theatre Company’s production of Macbeth was thoroughly enjoyable, and it was a wonderfully spent evening getting to watch such a skilled and passionate cast performing such a well-thought-out interpretation of a Shakespearean classic.

Image credit: 12 South Theatre Company and GreenDoor Theatre Company

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