Macbeth at the Garrick Theatre
The latest production by the National Youth Theatre is as good as, if not better than, many of the shows currently running in the West End. Adapted by Moira Buffini and directed by Natasha Nixon, this gender-fluid staging of Shakespeare’s Macbeth places an impressive Olivia Dowd in the titular role. In this interpretation, women are both the victims and perpetrators of heinous crimes, and represent the leading figures in the power struggle. The piece reimagines the Scottish Play as many of us know it and electrifies us with a nightmare of monstrosity, sexual twists and ghosts.
There is no interval, which might have been a downside if not for the speed and skill of the scene-changes, which have a fluid quality. The show exploits the nature of an ensemble cast, where one actor may play several roles, particularly by having the witches and the assassins performed by the same people – a twist which generates a sense of pervading evil. In bringing about the witches’ prophecy, Macbeth has become tainted by them, and everything she does and orders after killing the Queen is linked to the sorceresses.
Isabel Adomakoh Young (Lady Macbeth) is brilliant in the famous night-walking scene. It begins, as it is often performed, with Lady Macbeth speaking while the attendant and doctor watch on. In this adaptation, the ghosts of those Macbeth has killed surround her after she has finished her speech. The movements that the character has been making earlier now make sense as we see her attempting to escape the grasp of the spectres that have been present, for her, the entire time. Making stuff of nightmares physical and visible happens regularly in this staging as the audience is taken into the mind of the central duo.
It is hard to be original when performing Shakespeare, but the National Youth Theatre’s female-fronted production manages to do just that. And what better selling-point is there than achieving such an impressive dramatic feat?
Photos: The Other Richard
Macbeth is at the Garrick Theatre from 20th November until 7th December 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.