St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
Reviewed – 4th July 2017
“David Hywel Baynes excels in his role of Macbeth”
Celebrating their 10th anniversary the Iris Theatre Company use the grounds of the 17th century St Paul’s Church to bring to life their dark and grisly production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. An immersive promenade theatre that winds its way through the stunning grounds and buildings, drawing you in to one of his most famous tragedies.
Although the play begins in daylight, which feels wrong for such a macabre story, the set designer Alice Channon uses interesting props to enhance the natural setting and increase the sense of despair and destruction. As the light fades the effective use of lighting and smoke adds drama and an eerie spookiness to the stage. The actors themselves lead you from scene to scene, which at times was a little chaotic but added to the overall tension of the play. As with all outdoor theatre you need to be able to zone out a little to the odd passing aircraft, birds and music drifting over from nearby venues which at times may interject at an in opportune moment.
I was slightly concerned when during the opening scenes the witches appeared as part insect, part other world creatures. I wasn’t sure why they had chosen to go down this route and was probably the only negative of the whole performance. However, the strength of the acting from the opening scenes takes over and you end up accepting their roles in this form.
David Hywel Baynes excels in his role of Macbeth. His projection in a vast open space is second to none. His unraveling into a guilt-ridden madness is incredibly believable and you cannot help but feel his pain. Mogali Masuku takes on many roles during the show but it is in her role of Lady Macbeth that stands out particularly with her convincing demise into madness.
With a cast of just seven the roles are very well played and clever costume changes means that you don’t become confused. The acting is all of a very high quality and the oration throughout is excellent. The play by its nature is gruesome in parts and there were times during the play that I jumped or left my seat much to the amusement of the school party in the audience.
I sometimes think the end of a play is a bit of an anti climax but for me the rousing song as the characters leave the stage was a particularly fitting closing.
The team from the Iris theatre certainly deserved the standing ovation they received at the end of this performance.
Reviewed by Angela East
Production Images by Hannah Barton
is at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden until 29th July