"six-strong retelling of Scottish tragedy"
by Michael Gray for remotegoat on 02/02/18

Alex Pearson fields a diverse, charismatic team of six for this speedy Scottish tragedy.
We’re promised a modern-day retelling, and here are the weird sisters, sinister hooded figures, rough sleeping imperfect speakers perhaps, sharing a bottle as they relish their encounter with Macbeth. And when he appears, his black beret gives him the air of a revolutionary – Banquo too. Lady Macbeth reads an email from her husband - “this have I thought good to deliver thee...”
The Porter, always welcome relief from the dark, enjoys a bangin’ tune, shares a cold Domino’s, and gives us a gleeful gloss on all those obscure jokes. She’s Ailis Duff, who’s also excellent as Banquo, making the Thane a feisty female foil to her erstwhile ally, Macbeth.
Jesse Ayertey is compelling in the title role – his warm voice draws us into the soliloquies - “tomorrow and tomorrow”, for instance, has a simple directness more effective than more complex interpretations. As his ambitious Lady, Esther Shanson gives us an overwrought wife, with a touch of the Ophelia. She romps with her husband, then spurs him on. Her soliloquies are superbly crafted, and her “leave all the rest to me” sounds memorably chilling.
There’s a good deal of doubling, of course. Courtney Ceanne Buchner is Ross, and the doctor, helpfully wearing a stethoscope; Lady Macbeth returns as the Messenger to spot the distant lights of the “moving grove”. Parys Jordon, a noble Duncan, discovers, as Macduff, his own murder. Jack Spencer is a touching infant son to Lady Macduff, his football stolen by the First Murderer, and, as Malcolm, reacts to his own demise - “merciful heavens...” - and has the last word, holding the usurper’s hessian head as the lights intensify far behind him over the water.
The back lighting, from under the barrier, somehow, helps the mood. There are some truly thrilling moments – the Ghost’s second appearance, for one – and this intimate space reminds us how close we are to the action, even when it takes place off stage. Duncan’s murder, the death of Macbeth’s lady “by self and violent hands”, even the unyielding tyrant’s end, a violent knife crime on the field, seem to be happening just a breath away.

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