Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
Reviewed – 11th February 2020
“succeeds in bringing the darkness of Macbeth to life through inspired direction, artful effects and compelling acting”
In an arresting version of his shortest, bloodiest tragedy, Shakespeare tells of unbridled ambition and the ensuing punishment in a tale of brutality, guilt, innocence and fate. Returning home from battle, Macbeth and fellow general, Banquo, come across three witches, whose supernatural element denotes temptation, and they foretell that Macbeth will become king. When Lady Macbeth hears the news, she persuades her husband to quicken things along by killing King Duncan. Afterwards, Macbeth becomes desperate with fear of losing the crown and gets rid of everyone who he thinks stands in his way, until nobleman Macduff gets his revenge. In contrast, Lady Macbeth is haunted by guilt, day and night, and eventually kills herself. The narrative has relevance today with its timeless themes and gives the central couple a modern slant through Lady Macbeth’s calculating dominance in their relationship – an unusual depiction of a wife for that time.
Douglas Rintoul’s mindful direction allows the play to be expressed by Shakespeare’s words which, in turn, enable the characters to develop. His subtle touches of imaginative staging, for example the silhouetted battles and murders, lessen the distraction from the psychological intensity and we are gripped by the horror of human nature. The technical effects enhance both the storyline and the atmosphere. A red laser shines across the bare stage, reminding us of the blood spilt for power. The lighting by Daniella Beattie illuminates the scenes with the glow of the northern landscape and the bleakness inside the castle. Paul Falconer’s incidental music and sound punctuates the action, adding clarity and mood to the plot, and the costumes (Chrissy Maddison) have an ageless simplicity, the earthy browns, blacks and greys of the men against the soft heather colours of the women.
Many of the cast play two or three parts, switching convincingly between them. The witches (Connie Walker, Danielle Kassaraté and Colette McNulty) are wild and mischievous with their sinister prophecies, while Tilda Wickham’s Malcolm verges on overly placid, especially when trying to pretend to be more tyrannous than Macbeth. Phoebe Sparrow as Lady Macbeth captures some poignant moments, notably the sleepwalking scene, but the hold she has on her husband appears as bullying rather than deep coercive malevolence and she seems to lose control quickly. Outstanding are Paul Tinto and Ewan Somers as Macbeth and Macduff. As the revengeful hero, Somer’s Macduff is played throughout with all his human traits intact, particularly when he learns of his slain family. Tinto, from brave warrior becomes the dominated spouse at home and then spirals into savage ruthlessness. Even his ‘To-morrow, and to-morrow…’ speech is said with a callous indifference for life.
A dramatically impressive production, it succeeds in bringing the darkness of Macbeth to life through inspired direction, artful effects and compelling acting, and portends another great year for Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, The Stage Awards ‘London Theatre of the Year 2020’.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
Photography by Mark Sepple
Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch until 29th February
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
TO STAR IN UK TOUR OF
Flashdance – The Musical returns to the UK for the first time since 2011 starring Strictly favourite Joanne Clifton and singer-songwriter Ben Adams, and will arrive at Glasgow King’s Theatre on 05 August 2017 prior to an extensive UK tour.
Strictly Come Dancing Champion Joanne Clifton is no stranger to being at the top, as she is also a World & European Champion ballroom dancer, and is one of very few pro dancers to have won both the main Strictly glitter ball with Ore Oduba last year and the Christmas Special in 2015 with Harry Judd.
Joanne made her musical theatre debut in the role of Streetwalker in the UK premiere of the Irving Berlin musical Face The Music, for which she was nominated for an Off West End Award. She followed this up with a turn as Marilyn Monroe in the Norma Jeane Musical and then tread the boards as Millie Dillmount in the No. 1 UK Tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie for which she garnered rave reviews.
She is now excited to take on her latest starring role as Alex Owens in the UK Tour of Flashdance. Joanne says:
“This is just another dream come true! I think everyone in the world whether dancer or non-dancer, as soon as they hear ‘What a Feeling’, remember that iconic scene at the end of the film and I’m so incredibly lucky that I get to do that every night in a UK TOUR along with fabulous numbers like ‘She’s a Maniac’. I’m over the moon! It’s another amazing opportunity in my musical theatre career and I can once again sing and act alongside dancing! I just hope the water’s not too cold when it falls on me!”
Ben Adams who will join Joanne on stage as Nick Hurley has been singing and performing since the age of 8. His career started as head chorister at St. Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey, singing at royal weddings, touring all over Europe, recording 2 classical albums and frequently singing for the likes of the queen and the pope. At 16, he became the lead singer of the band a1, who racked up 10 million record sales, 2 UK number ones, 5 studio albums and toured throughout the world, winning a Brit award among many others.
When the band split, Ben took to the studio and is now a successful song writer and producer, working with the likes of Robin Thicke, Craig David, JLS, Ward Thomas, Sam Bailey, Boyzone and Alexandra Burke to name but a few. He also reached the final of Celebrity Big Brother, the Norwegian version of Strictly Come Dancing, and Master Chef in Denmark. As well as writing for other artists, he went straight to number 1 in the itunes charts with his classical album titled One Beautiful Mourning. His first solo album 1981 will be launched early 2018.
In 2010, a1 reformed and having successfully completed stadium tours in Asia and 68 sold out arena concerts across Europe, they starred in The Big Reunion on ITV2 and played arenas across the country. They continue to tour throughout the world.
Ben has also written a brand-new musical called ‘EUGENIUS!’ Which after a sold-out London Palladium performance, is set to hit the West End stage next year.
Ben says of taking to the stage in Flashdance:
“It’s amazing to be part of such an iconic story, and as an 80’s child I was brought up on this music so I couldn’t be happier playing Nick in the theatre production of Flashdance. Whilst I continue with my own music career and touring with a1, Musical Theatre has always been a real passion of mine, so to be asked to play this role, and to be working with such an amazing cast and crew is a real honour. I look forward to seeing you all out on the road in the coming months”
Additional cast includes: Colin Kiyani, Rikki Chamberlain, Garry Lee Netley, Carol Ball, Sia Dauda, Hillie Ann Lowe, Simeon Beckett, Rhodri Watkins, Demmileigh Foster, Emily Kenwright, Ameila Rose Fielding, Alex Christian, Matt Concannon.
For full tour dates and details please visit:
Joanne Clifton & Ben Adams will appear in Flashdance until 9th December 2017 – casting for venues in 2018 is yet to be announced