Brave Macbeth

This is Macbeth the musical as though it has been rewritten by a Monty Python fan and acted by a drama group, with och-aye accents and just a touch of camp; altogether it makes for a rather enjoyable combination.

While you will feel like you’ve gone to see a school play, complete with teens giggling at their friends being on stage, that does not mean that there is nothing for outsiders to enjoy. Certain classic scenes have been cleverly adapted to the comic format (in particular look out for the appearance of Banquo at the feast) and the decision to cast the same actress as Lady Macbeth and the chief witch would have interesting implications in any other production. Here, though, all such implications are crushed, just as any attempt at a soul-searching speech by Macbeth is crushed by Lady Macbeth shouting, “I hope you are not doing a soliloquy.”

This is probably a good thing, for both players and audience, and the decision to go light on the emotion that usually permeates Macbeth certainly made it more appealing to a younger crowd. Quite young children lapped it up; I heard one girl saying that she would go again. Shakespeare’s plot is presented in an accessible form, with well known lines from the original being dropped in and several knowing references to other Shakespearean plays. Although don’t be surprised if, studying it in later life, your children ask you with surprise where the jokes and songs have gone.

This is a demanding production for such a young cast and while the singing goes well, the actions and delivery of certain lines feels very consciously thought out. There are some exceptions to this; most noticeably Frankie O’Connor as Macbeth is one of the most comfortable and convincing in his role. But, if the execution does not always hit the mark, that does not particularly matter as the overwhelming force of this production carries it through.

If you prefer your Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrows to be more Annie the Orphan than Ian McKellan, then this show might be for you.

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Performances

The Blurb

Witty script and catchy, original songs, Brave Macbeth is a great introduction to Shakespeare for children of all ages. ‘Their energy, commitment blasts through the audience’ (James Bryce, edfringe.com). ‘Brilliant. Absolutely stunned by the professionalism’ (audience review, edfringe.com).

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