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Macbeth: Review

SCREW your courage to the sticking point and head for the Playhouse theatre this week for the Lindley Players' production of Macbeth.

Macbeth PosterIt may not be the obvious choice for an am-dram group to perform - or for an evening out - but with the possible exception of Romeo and Juliet, the Scottish play is one of the most accessible to audiences.

An English degree is not needed to enjoy this production, although it does use the original language, and to very good effect.

The set is sparse but clever use of lighting, and more importantly shadows, transform it into different parts of a castle or a barren heath.

Director Roy Drinkwater makes good use of the whole theatre, which feels particularly suitable for a play designed to be produced 'in the round'. Music is also used to create tension, and to give the play a fast-paced feel.

Not everyone can portray the murderous madness of Macbeth but, perhaps worryingly for his friends and family, Joel Arnold proved more than up to the task.

He grasped all the facets of the character, from his initial ambition to fear to tyrannical insanity, and gave a totally gripping performance.

He was well-matched with Emma Thomas as Lady Macbeth, who oozed evil from her first appearance but became hauntingly vulnerable in the sleep-walking scene.

Other notable performances included Peter Bressington, particularly as the Porter who brought some much-needed light relief, and Louise Blakey and the rest of her coven of witches, who I fear will appear in many people's nightmares.

Dan Coles was a formidable Macduff, with plenty of anger to fuel his thoughts of revenge and impressive vocal skills. I certainly would not argue with him.

And nor would Macbeth, according to this production. Although the famous line, "Lay on, Macduff", was uttered, the final scene seemed to be missing the challenge that accompanies it, and instead of exiting fighting, Macbeth flees the scene with Macduff in hot pursuit.

You could argue it was to protect more delicate members of the audience, but the particularly gruesome head that appears a few minutes later suggests that was not the plan.

Whatever the intention, it was a shame for Macbeth to slink off like a coward rather than go out with the bang Shakespeare seemed to intend - particularly after such an excellent build up.

But at least it means my nightmares will be limited to mad murderers and bloodied heads rather than sword fights too…

Liz Crudgington - Canterbury Times Review 13th June 2013

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