Macbeth at Wilton’s Music Hall
There have been innumerable versions of Shakespeare’s plays, especially Macbeth, but presenting this macabre classic as lyrical horror is appropriate. Highlighting the most frightening and gory aspects of this piece to music like the Stones’ Paint it Black and the Animals’ House of the Rising Sun, Watermill Ensemble’s Macbeth – directed by Paul Hart – gives us our favourite bard’s most famous work as a spooky, rock-inspired production.
The curse of the Scottish Play is well-known in dramatic circles – if cast and crew speak of the text or title outside of the theatre it will, according to legend, invite disaster. Someone must have forgotten as opening night is halted when Lauryn Redding (Lady Macduff) is injured and replaced by Emma Barclay, who by serendipity sits in the audience. Proceeding with vibrant intensity, this 21st-century take on the Elizabethan tragic drama takes off again all engines go, seething with fierce passion and dynamism.
While politics, relationships and sex are strong themes in Macbeth, this version plays up the work’s conflicts, struggles for power and bloodlust, creating an atmosphere rife with aggression. Reverberating rock music played by actors (Max Runham, director) enhances the highly charged ambience. An intriguing set (Katie Lias) on a multilevel stage includes moody, hazy projections (Rhoades-Brown), and combined with the energetic sound design (David Gregory), produces a sense of excitement fused with doom as the tragic narrative unfolds.
Although the spoken text is not always easy to hear clearly over the music, the performers are excellent. As a bold, impassioned Macbeth, Billy Postlethwaite impresses. Emma Mcdonald is a charismatic Lady Macbeth, and replacement Emma Barclay carries off Lady Macduff without a glitch – admirably, considering she had not played the role in months. Molly Cheswirth’s Malcolm, Jamie Sutterthwaite’s Duncan, Robyn Sinclair as Banquo, Lucy Keirl’s Porter and Mike Slader’s Macduff are terrific, as are Tom Sowinski and Peter Mooney as noblemen Donalbain and Lennox.
Stylish, innovative, thought-provoking and edgy, Watermill Ensemble’s Macbeth is an ingenious, entertaining and exhilarating wild ride.
Photos: Pamela Raith
Macbeth is at Wilton’s Music Hall from 22nd January until 8th February 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.