On a barren heath, three strange and malevolent witches tell an ambitious Scottish nobleman, Macbeth, that he is destined to be King of Scotland. Thus begins a series of dreadful events leading to the death of the King, and of Macduff Thane of Fife’s entire family and many more. From ambitious dreams to terrifying nightmares the course of events is set.
The staging of the opening scene gives the play an unsettling, claustrophobic feel which is maintained relentlessly. Throughout the play, music plays which is beautiful, unexpected and at the same time full of foreboding. The play itself is largely spoken in verse.
Macbeth and his cold, ruthless wife, are seduced by the promise of power made by the three dreadful witches and become determined to kill the king and usurp his crown.
But their fortune is ill-fated. Neither are as ruthless as they actually believe they are and neither are inured from dreadful feelings of guilt and horror. They are the only couple in the play who do not have children. Does this make the core of their relationship in some way more empty? Without this emptiness would they have been so easily led astray? Would they have been so ruthless?
Ok, everyone knows something of the Macbeth story. Whether it is just the three Weyard sisters chanting “double double toil and trouble, fire burn and caldron bubble” or the dreadful Lady Macbeth trying to wash the blood of the dead Duncan from her hands. It has been filmed on numerous occasions and performed perpetually on stage somewhere in the world for hundreds of years. However, the play still has the ability to surprise when performed by a talented company such as The AC Group.
The very skilful acting of William Ross-Fawcett playing the ambitious Macbeth, shows Macbeth to be a man of action but not great intelligence. When he slaughters Macduff’s innocent family he seems to have lost touch with reality. William’s acting is measured and at the same time exciting. He is somehow believable, someone you might have gone to school with. In fact a very fine young actor.
Amelia Clay who plays Lady Macbeth is brilliant as the woman who begins the play as a cool, ambitious, practical woman and somewhere along the way, her nature swaps with that of her husband and she becomes the fearful one, unable to sleep and afraid of every shadow and he becomes more and more out of control and steeped in blood.
All the players are excellent but I must mention the totally brilliant Nell Hardy who has dual roles as a Weyard sister and also one of the principal characters, Macduff. It is Macduff, Thane of Fife, who finally becomes Macbeth’s nemesis after her family is senselessly slaughtered. Nell seems to have a naturally sad but sensuous demeanour. She measures every word and balances every sentence beautifully. Each character that she plays, she imbues with real feelings. Surely a star in the making.
The director Thomas Attwood has made a fine production. The story is clearly stated without losing any of its drama. An admirably accomplished play. One that I will long remember.
Reviewed by Graham Archer
Photo: Robert Youngson
Macbeth plays at Jack Studio Theatre until 22 April 2017