The Macbeth Project

The students performing this play take us through the drama wardrobe into a Shakespearean Narnia. Clearly influenced by Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, this is a musical which employs a play-within-a-play, loosely based on the plot of Macbeth. The Project uses the themes of madness and magic to weave its own tale. Whilst Macbeth plots to gain notoriety by becoming head boy of the school, a group of drama students are studying Shakespeare’s tragedy and the boundaries between acting and reality are increasingly blurred.

The plot is somewhat confusing. It’s not always clear when we’re operating in fantasy or reality and, whilst this is intentional, a more explicit definition would aid the storytelling. The script cleverly employs both modern and Shakespearean idioms, the characters speaking in a mix of blank verse and modern language. There’s also plenty of wit with amusing Shakespeare and popular references – the murder scene played out like a lightsaber duel for example - and comedy stems from some teenage stereotypes.

The cast is substantial, making a great sound when singing together in harmony. There are some less confident performers in the ensemble, but overall the standard is pleasingly high. Of particular note are the two leading ladies. Lara Kidd’s Anna (the Lady Macbeth equivalent) is suitably snarling, her voice almost reminiscent of a young Idina Menzel. Christina McNeill is a star in the making as the mad teacher Miss Muir, whose acting and singing are superb. Musically, the score makes creative use of some typical vocal warm-up exercises and the cast cope well with some tough melodic leaps and complex harmonies.

Despite some narrative wobbles, this is a mostly talented cast who deserve to play on.

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The Blurb

Finding their teacher lost and confused, a group of reluctant Shakespeare scholars are left alone with only ambition, murder, magic and a discarded lesson plan for company. New tragi-comic musical performed by young ensemble. www.themacbethproject.com.

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