An original musical with plenty of spark, Vote Macbeth! aims to present a fresh take on the well-worn story of the Scottish play.
An original musical with plenty of spark
Goodbye to medieval Scotland, all full of blasted heaths and witchcraft, and hello to the political power of the Press Office and the newsroom. The three witches have been replaced by three newsreaders, who have an enlarged role as the chorus, and instead of Duncan as King, he’s now President.
Clydebuilt Theatre Company were founded to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy and participate in a real musical theatre experience, whether it’s their chosen profession or not. This genuine love for the genre shines through in all the performances given by the highly talented cast. Perhaps most impressive is that, alongside starring as Macbeth, John Paul Liddle has also written, composed, and directed the entire piece. Condensing a play as complex and well-known as Macbeth into an hour means that it’s packed full of energy, even as it skims over some of the subtleties of Shakespeare’s script. Choreography is mostly absent, but an early party scene emanates joy, and Hugo Moore’s tap dancing as Banquo is a delight. Lisa-Jayne Rattray as Lady Macbeth blows our socks off as she arrives on stage. Unfortunately, her tour-de-force performance doesn’t capture the nuances of Lady Macbeth’s complexity, and her duet with John Paul Liddle lacks both chemistry and harmony at times; still, her powerful stage presence is undeniable. Hugo Moore smoulders away, first as a heroic Banquo, and later as his son Fleance, who struts on stage in sky-high stilettos before performing several references to the similarly named Beyoncé.
Overall, the political analogy doesn’t quite work. In a democracy, why should Macbeth fear that the descendants of Banquo be promised power? On the other hand, in a world which has spawned both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush (to give just one example), perhaps this isn’t so farfetched. However, it feels like an opportunity has been missed to really satiricise today’s electoral system. In the age of the Brexit referendum, Trump’s election and involvement in the Jan 6th insurrection, and countless other ridiculous events, social media doesn’t get a look in. Even dedicated to the job Press Secretary Macduff is carting around a phone Malcom Tucker would have thrown out of the window. Hecate is reimagined as the Queen of Media, but despite a sassy entrance song, the social commentary ends there.
Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had watching this ambitious production. There aren’t any earworms in the numbers, but all eighteen original songs are well executed and serve the story, allowing each of the cast to shine. Whether you ultimately choose to elect Macbeth is left up to you – but you’ll need hurry down to Greenside to get your vote.