by William Shakespeare.
The Cockpit Gateforth Street Marylebone NW8 8EH to 26 October 2013
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 258 2925.
Review: William Russell 11 October.
The Scottish Play reworked doesn’t entirely work.
The problem with directors is that they tend to have a Big Idea when it comes to Shakespeare, and they persist with it even when it patently is not working. Director Nick Hastings’ Big Idea for this inaugural production of the Scottish Play for Infinite Space Theatre was to set it in the City – The Royal Bank of Dunsinane gets taken over by Macbeth, then he is disposed of in a takeover by the Bank of Birnam.
The witches become tabloid journalists (secret, black and midnight hacks) tempting Macbeth, Head of Equities trading, with their stories. Lots of roles have been given to women, the sort seen next to Lord Sugar or on Dragon’s Den. Again a good idea, but not supported by the text.
Macbeth is about murderous ambition not overweening greed, so really the Big Idea is a bad idea and when a woman is proclaimed King of Scotland at the end it all becomes rather silly. Saying Chief Executive Officer of Dunsinane Birnman Bank doesn’t sound quite right but would have made more sense.
Hastings also makes disastrous use of his splendid stage space. Cast on the high walkways of the Cockpit walls are invisible to large parts of the audience. And his designers have come up with some white tables and boxes, to serve as chairs, which get moved around endlessly to irritating effect.
There is, however, nothing wrong with the playing – Michael Mayne is a splendid Duncan, every inch the City mogul. Steven Maddocks as Macbeth is a convincing City high-flier, Danielle Stagg makes an impressive Lady Macbeth in Jimmy Choos, Tim Colmans, as well as playing a witch does a neat double as the Porter, and Ian Grant is a very smooth Banquo.
The fake television newscasts shown and the imitation copies of ‘City Times’ in the programme suggest that it really was a good idea, with headlines such as ‘Macbeth Crowned New Dunsinane CEO’, ‘RBD Deaths Mount: Banquo Murdered, Fleance Escapes, Dunsinane Rejects “Insulting” Takeover’.
Ambition and greed in the City is fine. But murderous ambition? Sadly this Big Idea does not work.
Macbeth: Steven Maddocks.
Lady Macbeth: Danielle Stagg.
Banquo: Ian Grant.
Macduff: Fran Trewin.
Fleance: Elizabeth Kingsman.
Duncan: Michael Mayne.
Malcolm: Thom Petty.
Donalbain: Victoria Claringbold.
First Witch: Miranda Colmans.
Second Witch: Tim Colmans.
Third Witch: Rachel Summers.
Hecate: Esther Eden.
Lennox: Emma Pleass.
Ross: Kathrine Harvey.
Siward: Ariane Thornton-Mason.
Seyton: Mayne McCutcheon.
Director: Nick Hastings.
Designer: Mary Groom.
Lighting: Kat Padel,
Original film: Rob Johnson;@<Little Gold.
Sound: David Rance, Jo Eggleton-Rance,
Costume: Frances Musker, Kate Burns.