BWW Review: MACBETH, Garrick Theatre
Something wicked has arrived in the West End. It comes in the form of the National Youth Theatre REP Company's production of Macbeth, which has been abridged beautifully by Moira Buffini. Shakespeare's epic tale has been condensed down to 100 minutes, and is jam-packed with lots of things that entertain and thrill.
The audience on the day were mainly school children, and in particularly, those of the primary age. None of those kids could take their eyes off the stage - it's a testament to the company's tireless efforts to keep the story engaging. And they achieve this; the children cheer, laugh, shout out and are vocally horrified by the action taking place.
There have been a lot of productions of Macbeth recently - most of which have missed the mark completely. This isn't one of those productions; Natasha Nixon's direction is totally clean in its intention, yet messy in its staging. When I say mess I mean it in the sense that it holds nothing back. The company aren't afraid of being gritty and never shy away from the play's darker side. It's definitely a good thing.
But what makes this interpretation different? Of course there's the brilliant script from Buffini and also the gender-swapped central character, (which means that we have both of the Macbeth's self-identifying as female). It needs to be said that Isabel Adomakoh Young and Olivia Dowd play these two characters beautifully. There's expert precision to their choices and a real sense of heartbreak and horror that comes from them.
However, there's something more exciting at play here. What sets this show apart is actually the thing that sets NYT apart from other organisations - it's the company's enthusiasm for the work. It really is contagious. Passion exudes from the stage and it's clear that the ensemble are having lots of fun. This enjoyment results in brilliant performances, lovely trusting of impulses and delicious storytelling.
The shortness of the play meant that there were never any stalled moments. Nixon's production has a beautiful rhythm to it and transitions effectively through each scene. If you want to see Shakespeare told with clarity and be highly entertained at the same time, then this is the show for you.
After watching the REP Company for quite some years, and after seeing three of this intake's productions, it's clear to me that this group are some of the finest young actors they've ever had.
Photo courtesy of the NYT REP Company