Tag Archives: Danielle Pearson

Macbeth

★★★★

Wilton’s Music Hall

Macbeth

Macbeth

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 23rd January 2020

★★★★

 

“a gritty, unfurling tragedy filled with constant movement and action”

 

Scotland’s war-torn landscapes were Shakespeare’s original setting for Macbeth, providing an air of bleakness fitting to a story about a thane who kills his king. Stepping forward in time, this production finds a new current of bleakness to build upon, with dull building facades and army fatigues – all tacked over with a sheen of glitz and glamour, such as the sleek tux and red dress Macbeth and Lady Macbeth wear to crow over their newly-won court. Overall, the Watermill Theatre’s production is a worthy version of the tale, thick and heavy with atmosphere.

The play opens with war, as Billy Postlethwaite’s moody Macbeth greets not the usual ethereal witches, but looming soldiers fresh from the battlefield, who violently prophecise that he shall be king. But the dull underbelly of war is always there throughout the play, even in later scenes of revelry. When triumphant Macbeth and Banquo (Robyn Sinclair) return from war to Lady Macbeth (Emma McDonald), it follows them in the form of ominous throbbing guitar chords and solemn drumbeats. Growing darker throughout the play, especially after the couple murder their king Duncan (a warm-hearted portrayal by Jamie Satterthwaite), these musical touches serve to accentuate the mental anguish of our protagonist and other troubled characters.

The whole play is moody – an aesthetic that draws you in and can be credited in large part to the music and scenery. The musical elements (directed by Maimuna Memon and performed by the company) are an impressive feat; they start off hesitantly but by the end become so omnipresent that you begin to wonder how the play would have functioned without them. Featuring classics such as The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’, the song choices are fitting throughout, involving minimal singing and working best as background ambience.

Clever scenery and set design (Katie Lias) casts an intentional shadow over the proceedings. Perhaps the neon lights over Macbeth’s reimagined hotel residence fading to read just ‘hel’ is a little on the nose, but the greying pockmarked building that dominates the stage acts as a nice metaphor for Macbeth’s initial feelings of impenetrability. Lighting (Tom White) is also deployed well against the monochrome backdrop to show blood, battle, and the bright trees of Birnam wood.

While the actors in some cases take a little while to warm up to their roles, the play does offer some new interpretations of familiar characters. Postlethwaite’s Macbeth is reminiscent of a troubled warrior from fantasy media, and while Mcdonald’s Lady Macbeth comes across a little overbearingly posh at the start, she grows to become more developed. Lucy Keirl also does well with the relatively minor role of the reoccurring hotel porter. All round, the performances from the rest of the company (Molly Chesworth, Peter Mooney, Lauryn Redding, Tom Sowinski, and Mike Slader) are generally good and grow with the thickening atmosphere.

Pairing brooding music with the already dark subject-matter, director Paul Hart has created a gritty, unfurling tragedy filled with constant movement and action (credit also to movement designer Tom Jackson Greaves). Watching this adaptation of Macbeth promises to be a dramatic evening indeed.

 

Reviewed by Vicky Richards

Photography by Pamela Raith

 

Macbeth

Wilton’s Music Hall until 8th February

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Dad’s Army Radio Hour | ★★★★ | January 2019
The Good, The Bad And The Fifty | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Pirates Of Penzance | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Shape Of the Pain | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Sweet Science Of Bruising | ★★★★ | June 2019
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story | ★★★★★ | September 2019
This Is Not Right | ★★★★ | October 2019
Much Ado About Nothing | ★★★★ | November 2019
Christmas Carol – A Fairy Tale | ★★★★ | December 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Jane Eyre – 4 Stars

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Watermill Theatre

Reviewed – 30th October 2018

★★★★

“This is both a story of 1847 and one of today”

 

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is the eponymous and block-busting mid-19th century romantic novel. First published in three volumes, its narrator, ‘plain Jane’ describes her childhood in the home of an abusive aunt, her punitive schooling, and her employment as governess to the ward of Mr Rochester at the gloomy Thornfield Hall. Rochester, of course, has a dark secret locked up in his attic. Jane Eyre is a story about confinement, mastery and love. For Rochester, Jane is ‘unfemale’, ‘a wild, frantic bird’ to be caged. But she is ‘no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will’.

This is both a story of 1847 and one of today. Newbury’s Watermill has translated the classic and pioneering novel into a seventy minute show that runs without interval, and that is followed, from Tuesday to Friday, by an interesting question and answer session. 

Adaptor Danielle Pearson explained how almost half of her text was cut away about a week before the show opened, enabling her to create a taut and vibrant adaptation that remains truthful to the novel. Director Chloe France stripped away set too, and the show takes place with the back wall of the theatre visible and just a few simple wooden boxes on stage. Costumes are traditional and appropriate.

Just three actors were cast. Rebecca Tebbett has a luminous quality as Jane, and thoroughly inhabits the Yorkshire in which the action takes place. Wreh-Asha Walton has by far the most difficult task, taking on seven roles (plus Rochester’s dog). Interestingly, she portrays Rochester’s wife Bertha as a Caribbean woman, using some folk-dance inspired moves in a performance imbued with impressive power and authority. 2018 Stage Debut Award winner Alex Wilson has just the right amount of arrogant authority as Rochester. In one demanding and fast-moving scene he switches repeatedly from the role of Rochester to St John Rivers, Jane’s cousin, highlighting the dilemma that faces Jane as she chooses between going to India and returning to Rochester.

By stripping away so much that would be superfluous, this clever stage adaptation focuses on the power and poetry of Charlotte Brontë’s words, with some engaging performances from an impressive young cast. Not a moment is wasted.

You will have to be quick to catch this satisfying and thought-provoking show which closes on November 2.

 

Reviewed by David Woodward

Photography by Philip Tull

 


Jane Eyre

Watermill Theatre until 2nd November

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Teddy | ★★★★★ | January 2018
The Rivals | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Burke & Hare | ★★★★ | April 2018
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | ★★★★ | May 2018
Jerusalem | ★★★★★ | June 2018
Trial by Laughter | ★★★★ | September 2018

 

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