A modern interpretation of Macbeth, with atmospheric effects, bright lights and the songs of Frank Sinatra. However, the plot has been changed as little as possible and it is mostly in Shakespearean language. The production works surprisingly well.

The play opens on a dark stage, with only a coffin-sized box in the centre. On top of the box are a large number of burning candles. The cast members file silently on to stage and sit around the outside, where they remain throughout the performance. A singer begins to sing That Old Black Magic and each of the actors walks forwards to pick up a candle. Already, there is a sense that the story is pre-ordained and that Macbeth’s fate is sealed.

Prior to Macbeth and Banquo meeting the witches on the heath, (Strangers In The Night) we see the witches dancing with and disembowelling a dead messenger. This is a recurrent theme within the play; everyone who dies or murders is danced with and smeared with blood by the witches.

After Macbeth’s meeting with the witches we have our first sight of Lady Macbeth, reading her husband’s letter telling her of their prophecies (It’s Witchcraft). Immediately, she begins making plans, so that by the time Macbeth gets home the first murder has become inevitable. While they are plotting, the audience sees the witches hovering around them, delighting in the mayhem they have caused.

Each death and fight sequence takes place in well-choreographed slow motion, to the accompaniment of bright red lights and discordant sounds, which helps to emphasise the horror of the events.

The young performers are extremely good and mostly cope well with the language. Special mention must be made of Rory Campbell as Macbeth; he gives an electrifying and believable performance. By the end of the play he is stripped to the waist and covered with blood and is resigned to his fate. This production should change the mind of anyone who thinks that Shakespeare is dull or boring.

Reviews by Alan Chorley

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The Blurb

Stage by Stage, Edinburgh Academy, 14-19 August 3pm (1 hour 15 minutes)

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