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Macbeth (Belt Up)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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Having gained an almost cult following for their Edinburgh Fringe shows, it is easy to get excited at the possibility of a Belt Up Theatre performance coming to a site-specific London space - a murky and damp space called The House of Detention - surprisingly accessible in Clerkenwell. The York-based company bring their four-man Macbeth to the infamous Middlesex Prison, complete with its workhouse and POW past.

The foyer and bar are disused cells - their creaky doors and dusty floors - do not fail to impress, and neither did the opening of the show with Marcus Emerton, Joe Hufton and James Wilkes in the guise of the three witches, calling the audience into the chilling, sinister performance space.

The entire piece runs an hour and a half, and despite some exuberant performances, the hefty cuts could have been more drastic. Once the novelty of the space wears off (after about 20 minutes) the cold unfortunately sets in, the hot day outside failing to seeping through the stone into our basement location. Dominic Allen's Macbeth is a wily and crafty creature but lacks enough rise and fall to keep audiences fully enthralled in the piece.

James Wilkes as Lady Macbeth delivers the night's winning performance, however an actress in the role could have assisted in cutting through the numbing cold, confusing multi-role performances from all but the title character in the candle light, and given a much needed dynamic to the company.

- Rebecca Weymouth


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