Tag Archives: Alex Pearson

Macbeth – 2.5 Stars



Rose Playhouse

Reviewed – 1st February 2018


“The multi-rolling aspect of the cast can turn into periods of ‘accent bingo’”


The Rose Playhouse naturally lends its atmosphere to any show that takes place inside. The architecture’s mix of preserved history alongside modern fittings coincides nicely with Alex Pearson’s production of Macbeth. The collision of Shakespeare’s text within a contemporary setting could draw clear parallels to the world of today, but the mix does not quite blend together.

The text has been cut to seventy minutes and hits each plot point with relative smoothness. After a glorious victory in battle, Macbeth encounters three beings whose prophecies will set him to a bloody path aspiring to take the throne. One of Shakespeare’s shortest plays, ruthlessly cut we do however lose some of the depth in characterisation. Motivations can seem unclear when the aims of characters drastically turn in a matter of minutes, and this confusion could be avoided with a few restorations.

Pearson’s minimal production washes the production in a loose modern day concept that never becomes clear. At times the architecture is used effectively, complimented by David Palmer utilising back lights to create some interesting silhouettes. It is a shame that not all the theatre is used as well, and for such an atmospheric setting we don’t see enough of it. The multi-rolling aspect of the cast can turn into periods of ‘accent bingo’ in order to differentiate, whereas blocking is functional but can feel clunky, with transitions especially failing to drive the momentum as we reach the closing stages of the play.

The performances of the cast follow the line of not quite managing to soar. Jesse Ayertey’s titular tyrant sparks into life the rage and ambition, but lacks the vulnerability to entice the audience to care. Esther Shanson’s Lady Macbeth similarly plays lines with real insight but seems lost in other passages. It is the supporting performances where we are really able to invest, with a sympathetic and clear Macduff from Jack Spencer and Parys Jordon drawing a range of strong characterisations. But alongside a bland setting and a patronisingly misjudged Porter, they are not enough to save matters at hand.

When you enter, the Rose Playhouse feels as though it has the potential to deliver something special for a company, lending it a feel that few other venues can. But this Macbeth fails either to play the text with enough conviction to stand on its own feet or to use the venue confidently enough to compensate.


Reviewed by Callum McCartney

Photography by Greg Goodale




Rose Playhouse until 24th February



The Tempest  ★★★
A Midsummer Night’s Dream  ★★★
Coriolanus  ★★



Review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – 3 Stars

Unfolds Theatre

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Rose Playhouse

Reviewed – 3rd August 2017





“Delivered with real energy and verve… fun, fast and very entertaining”



Be warned: this show features a lot of audience participation. Both as you arrive, when there are inflatable versions of fairground games such as ring-toss, and during the performance. One lucky unsuspecting member of the audience will be pulled on stage to act the part of ‘wall’ (with lines!). If this is not your cup of tea, do not sit in the front row! However, if you enjoy this sort of thing, then you are in for a treat.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. As such, the challenge for new productions becomes what new, distinctive spin they can twist it with. Unfolds Theatre have plumped for a Victorianesque funfair theme, hence the games at the beginning. Whilst this inspires the zany costumes, it really only comes into its own in the fairy scenes.

The cast is excellent, all performing at least two roles; there is never any confusion between the characters, which, with the rapid speed of the plot, speaks to their skill. Sydney Aldridge is particularly good in the cleverly paired dual roles of the lovelorn Helena and the preening Bottom.

Most of the action plays out on a balcony overlooking the Rose Playhouse’s preserved ruins of the Elizabethan theatre in use in Shakespeare’s day. These are decked out in fairy lights and large inflatable ducks, which is visually arresting, though it doesn’t really add much to the drama, which has enough wit and exuberance of its own.

There are also some odd tonal shifts. The more threatening aspects of the funfair theme are never explored and Theseus’s words to his wife-to-be that he ‘wooed thee with my sword … And won thy love doing thee injuries …’ are spoken with none of the implied darkness. And yet there is a strong threat of violence within the young lovers’ scenes, which are some of the lightest and frothiest in the play, and this interpretation leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Nevertheless, despite these oddities, in this production, delivered with real energy and verve, Shakespeare’s great play is delivered at a fun, fast and very entertaining pace.


Reviewed by Alice Gray

Photography by Kathy Travelyan



is at The Rose Playhouse until 26th August



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