Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Bags of energy and young talent on display in the Little Shakespeare Company’s take on the play that actors never call by name.
A blast from piper Lawrence Bissell and we are on the march. An eclectic army in search of the creepy, evil dictator. No, not Donald Trump. We’re off in search of Macbeth, to right his wrongs and despatch him whence he came.
Our piper leads us to the eerie basement of the Royal Scots Club, a perfect atmosphere for the Little Shakespeare Company to weave a spell with energy, enthusiasm and neatly choreographed movement in an hour that mixed satire, rap and modern English together with enough original text to keep any Shakespeare buff happy.
The plot hasn’t changed much in the last four hundred years so we’ll take that as read. But director Michelle van Rensburg used dance, live music and every available entrance and exit (complete with a real creaky door) in a way that kept things rolling along, allowed the young cast to display their considerable array of talents whilst keeping the attention of the audience on the action.
Three wonderfully expressive witches bounced around, stealing every scene in which they appeared, all the time accompanied by an engaging Little Spirit. Hecate (the impressive Rachel Barr) was threatening and there were some very well constructed vignettes, including a splendidly drunk Porter from Russell Edmond. Mention should also be made of Dillon van Rensburg as Macduff, Max Wood as Malcolm, Scott Hornell as Duncan and a very melodic singing soldier, as well as the cheekily engaging Edith Kennedy as Fleance.
Cameron Cessford was a convincing Banquo; a fighter too, as it took three very feisty murderers and about twenty blows with daggers to despatch him. And Dylan Napier provided a strong and resolute Macbeth, completely unperturbed by the mayhem going on all around him and possessed of a commanding voice.
But it was those witches and Lady M herself that made the piece. Conspiratorial cackling must be in the blood of Max Mitchell, Nancy Bird and Kate Kinloch, the latter possessed of an impressive and crystal clear singing voice. It takes a lot of courage at any age to sing solo a capella on stage, but she nailed it, with perfect pitch and superb enunciation.
It’s also very unusual to see someone as young as Faye Turpie Laird display such a wide range of emotions with such utter conviction. But this was a Lady MacBeth as cold, calculating, fearful and deranged as you could ask for – a tour de force of a performance from a clearly talented young actress.
Sure, one or two things went bump in the night and the lighting plot struck me as being over-ambitious – a simpler flood, wash and spot might have served the actors better. And the backing sound, whilst spot on in terms of mood, was apt to overpower the young voices on stage. Less is often more.
These, though, are minor issues in what was a well-crafted, amusing production with a vigorous, action-driven denouement. It’s always great to see the next generation getting to grips with the Bard and the Little Shakespeare Company did just that – top marks all round! Well worth a look.