Just like a fine single malt whisky from the River Spey I prefer a Shakespeare play served straight! The only addition permitted, particularly so with “Macbeth”, is a little ice to aid and abet the complex spirit. And so it is with Rob Croser’s IT production resulting in in a stunning staging of “the King of Tragedies”.
Set on a blood red square stage raked toward us and surrounded by imposing grey shadow shaped walls and ramparts, the atmospherics hover ready and waiting. The three weird sisters played to perfection by Pam O’Grady, Lyn Wilson and Emma Bleby appear wraith-like on the sinister and misty moor. We are immediately locked into the music of the language and cast into its timeless spell.
Lighting designed by Rob Croser and Bob Weatherly is exactly how we imagine it should be to create the imagery throughout the play. It provides a mystical and other worldliness in keeping with the relentless unfolding and unpacking of decisions, deeds and their dire consequences. A universally talented and committed cast held us in thrall for just over two hours; seamlessly and smoothly. And the time simply melted away.
I particularly liked the treatment of the “last supper” scene in which Banquo, played throughout with a fine touch of honest and faithful nobility by Steve Turner, appears ghost-like. The deft artful use of bench table together with appearance and disappearance entwining the bemused guests works a treat.
Having berated, cajoled and pushed her husband, Lady Macbeth’s “Out damn’d spot” descent into madness is delivered with fine tuning by Rebecca Kemp. Her performance produces the right stuff throughout.
The moment at which Macduff is presented with the news of the butchery of his wife and children is profound. It is an audience pin-dropping moment. Shedrick Yarkpai’s performance is quite superb throughout. He is mellifluous of voice and convincing in his nobility and humanity.
The slight movements of Birnam Wood before its descent upon Dunsinane juxtaposed against the stark, static set, is pure genius. When thrown aside to reveal Malcolm, Macduff and the forces of good and justice, it is a stark realisation of the Witches’ penultimate prophecy. It is simple, dramatic and effective.
Matt Hyde’s Macbeth is simply sublime. His strengths and terrible addictive weakness are so nicely understated. Even in the final scene his Macbeth retains a faint vestige of his former heroic nobility. Matt delivers a fine, controlled and sustained performance.
The whole package carries the stamp of Rob Croser and David Roach’s meticulous attention to detail. It is delivered by an expert team who obviously work as one. Independent Theatre’s “Macbeth” is simply, bloody great!