Review: Macbeth – Proteus Theatre

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If like me, you first encountered Macbeth at school, perhaps it was your first encounter with Shakespeare, you were left probably baffled by the dialogue and plot of this murderous tragedy.

In a modern take on the ‘Scottish play’,  Proteus Theatre have ripped up the GCSE revision notes and presented a very dynamic performance,  which I recently saw at Luton Library Theatre.

The production is full of “sound and fury” with a pumping 80s soundtrack, set against a background of  ‘greed is good’ corporate yuppie culture.  The cast of five actors use costume changes and accents to shift characters, often to comic effect. The dialogue is conversational which makes it really accessible. The simple set, of steel framed cuboids are cleverly designed and become part of the choreography as the actors move fluidly across the stage to reposition them. Radio news clips remind us that the action is set on Black Monday, October 1987, even the infamous hurricane gets a mention.

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Courtesy – Proteus Theatre, Pamela Raith photograph

My favourite character was Lady Macbeth, whose “vaulting ambition” drove her husband to begin his path of violence and self-destruction. She alone among Shakespeare’s women is a doer, the antithesis of the passivity of Ophelia and Gertrude in ‘Hamlet’, or the ironically named Hero of ‘Much ado about Nothing’. The actor playing Lady Macbeth had great presence and rocked a wardrobe of power suits and jaunty headgear. Macbeth himself, dressed in a dapper pink suit with a velvet turtle neck, was portrayed as a cocaine fueled yuppie strutting and fretting upon the stage.

The production is currently touring and is suitable for ages 12+. As Macbeth is a key curriculum text I really recommend it for teenagers, as it is great introduction to the bard and a reminder of his greatness and timelessness.

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing”

Details of further tour dates can be found here : 

Trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcWMzIXr1pU

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