Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, London E1 to 8 February 2020. 2**. William Russell

By William Shakespeare.
Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, London E1 8JB to 8 February 2020.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2h 15 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 702 2789.
The Scottish play is regarded in the theatre as unlucky and press night for this Watermill Theatre production directed by Paul Hart fell victim to the curse or whatever it is that hangs over it. Ten minutes in to what seemed likely to be a stylish affair with everyone behaving like Samurai warriors and witches in abundance foretelling Macbeth’s future to the accompaniment of some loud rock music and lots of drumming it came to a halt. One of the cast had fallen and dislocated their knees in the scrum. But the show must go on and surprise, surprise, in the audience was an actress who had played Lady Macduff in an earlier season at the Watermill. So 45 minutes later they started all over again. The set is handsome, the music by the likes the Stones, Roy Orbison, Stormzy and Johnny Cash which backs up the drama is well chosen and the cast take turns to perform it when not needed on stage. In addition some intriguing back projections are used and the play spills all over the two levels of the Wilton stage to effect. Billy Postlethwaite is an impressive Macbeth, towering over everyone else physically and dramatically, and Emma Mcdonald makes an unusually sexy Lady Macbeth, although lumbered with some very odd white satin nightwear for the sleepwalking scene. Both spoke the lines with clarity. As for Emma Barclay, who took over from the injured Lauryn Redding, she delivered the goods – one would not have known there was anybody not fully au fait with the production on stage –and got a warm reception at the end.
The ensemble is clearly well drilled and up to the physical demands imposed on them, and, as so often these days, are not incapable of strumming guitars of playing the drums. However Shakespeare require actors who can speak clearly and deliver the verse – the mumbling going on was alarming, even allowing for people possibly being somewhat upset by the accident. That there was a lot of doubling going on is neither here nor there, but it does require the actors doing it to make quite clear just who they are at any given time and it all became a mishmash of strapping lads in combat gear who could have been anybody. Nor did it seem at all clear why Macbeth’s throne turned out to be a lavatory.
It was also a bad idea to set the whole thing in the Macbeth hotel with a neon sign in which the O and the T were unlit. So we are in Hell – or perhaps some brothel threatened by outside forces which the couple have taken over. The porter appeared to be a page boy in full rig which Lucy Keirl kept on for the rest of the time so that when required to be with Macbeth as Seyton at Dunsinane things took a really weird turn. But director Hart clearly had a vision all his own for the play and by and large it made sense, although the plethora of witches doing sexy things got rather tedious.
Malcolm: Molly Chesworth.
Lady Macduff: Emma Barclay.
Lennox: Tom Sowinski.
Porter/Fleance: Lucy Keirl.
Macbeth: Billy Postlethwaite.
Macduff: Mike Slader.
Lady Macbeth: Emma Mcdonald.
Duncan: Jamie Satterthwaite.
Donalbain: Peter Mooney.
Banquo: Robyn Sinclair.

Director: Paul Hart.
Designer: Katie Lias.
Movement Director: Tom Jackson Greaves.
Lighting Director: Tom White.
Sound Designer: David Gregory.
Video Projection Designer: Louise Rhodes-Brown.
Fight Director: Ian McCracken.
Production Photography: Pamela Raith, Scott Rylander & Richard Kenworthy.

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