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Macbeth (tour – Braintree)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Max Lewendel’s production for the current Icarus tour is as concentrated as last year’s Hamlet. That means that it has its faults, as well as its virtues. A cast of seven means that there’s considerable role-doubling, which Lauren Pratt’s costuming effects through simple cloak changes. The audience accepts these easily enough, and Mayou Trikerioti’s setting – a type of rusted-iron henge ravaged by lightning strikes – also works well.

I would hesitate to say that the cast actually gabbles its way through the text (a very full one), but a proportion of the sense of what was spoken as well as much of the poetry did get lost. It is telling that the scene with Lady Macduff (Emma Carter) and her son (Richard Hay – who also contributed an intelligent Malcolm) seemed to grip the young audience most at the performance which I saw.

The title role is played by Joel Gorf as a man who cannot ever be at ease with himself, except when caught up in the frenzy of the battlefield; Ronin Traynor’s fights are very well staged. Costa Chard is also good as Macduff. Matthew Bloxham looked more at ease as the pontificating doctor and the drunken porter than as Banquo. I can see the outline of the character which Sophie Brooke is portraying as Lady Macbeth, but it’s still only an outline at present.


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