Director Ricky Dukes, with his Lazarus Theatre Company of 19 young actors brings us an atmospheric, highly charged and thought provoking 95 minute version of the play. Stripped to the bare essentials of the storyline the plot, like a murder mystery, unravels before us as we witness the forces and events that unfold as foretold futures are made real by diabolical means.
With the cast mainly in black costumes that defy time and space it creates both echoes of the past and the present and really accentuates the part of Lady Macbeth as she enters in her long crimson evening dress to persuade and arraign her husband into doing the deed, by calling into question his ‘manhood’ whilst at the same time calling on the dark arts to 'unsex' her. It is a powerful and charismatic performance by Victoria Sye, not the classic image but one that she makes her own, one that grows in stature with her control and disintegrates so well once she loses it.
Reminiscent of the 70s Trevor Nunn RSC production with Ian McKellen, the stage is bare, with all the actors remaining on stage, lurking in the shadows until their entrance when they come into the circle that is marked on the floor or hover on the edge. The space here allows for total blackness and the clever use of lighting, by designer Heather Doole, from spots set at various positions and angles to the use of large hand held torches by the actors serves to intensify the darkness of the thoughts and deeds that are considered and carried out.
Dukes and Ria Whitton, the movement director, are to be congratulated on the overall visual style, the use of physical theatre techniques, graphic battle fights in slow motion, the undulating movement of the witches and the formality and unity of the courtiers: in addition Liam Walton’s soundtracks create just the right atmosphere.
A further disturbing idea introduced here is that the other worldliness of the witches is often offset by the use of the Lord’s prayer, intoned and used as a force to unite and ward off evil.
The ensemble cast are excellent and work together as a real team, the language is crisp and clear and the whole effect is mesmerising. If you know anyone unsure of Shakespeare then take them to see this and have them fall in love!
- Dave Jordan