Macbeth, Steiner Theatre, Rudolf Steiner House - Review

Part of the appeal of Shakespeare's historical plays is how national events depicted reflect the anxieties of the present day. While Macbeth the play isn't strictly 'historical', its themes of political ambition and manipulation leading to a divided nation is still very relevant today. Taking a leaf from the recent Fassbender movie, the play opens with the Thane of Glamis and his wife (Tom Hartill, Laura Murray) burying their child.

In an attempt to free the play from its historical baggage and keep it fresh, director Jack Brackstone-Brown has set the play in a world not unlike our own with modern attire and spoken prose instead of iambic pentameter. The Weird Sisters (Emma Grace, Alice Brittain, Kenzie Horn), far from being wizened crones, are all relatively young and behave like the child-adults of the play My Mother Said I Never Should ­– playful yet violent at the same time.

Like the 'droogs' of A Clockwork Orange, their presence spells danger for whoever crosses their path. By casting the Weird Sisters in other roles through the play, subliminally it looks like these handmaidens of fate are behind everything, from the smallest of matters to the gravest of decisions.

Jane Elsmore is commendable as Banquo, while Kathryn Tayor Gears and Kelsey Williams are distinctive in their respective roles of Lady Macduff and Macduff's child. However, in terms of a stand-out performance, that honour belongs to Laura Murray as Lady Macbeth – the personification of will unfettered by doubt or conscience.

© Michael Davis 2016

Macbeth runs at Rudolf Steiner House until 30th July 2016.

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