Among the best-known of Shakespeare's plays, MACBETH tells of the dangers of the lust of power and the betrayal of friends. Artistic Director, Neil Sheppeck, relocates this famous tragedy of greed and murder to the sixties gangland of Eastend London.
Without changing the text, the setting will be The Glamis Arms, complete with the 1966 World Cup playing on the television. At Riverside Studios, the best seats for the audience will be onstage - regulars of the pub - as Macbeth murders his way from wide-boy to King-pin, amongst and around them. Scenes from outside the boozer (Banquo's assassination, Lady Macduff's demise) are filmed and played on the television screen.
" The first thing that enthrals me is the set; an East End pub in Sixties gangland London, complete with shabby peeling wallpaper, dartboard, and the 1966 World Cup crackling from a black-and-white TV set. On stage seating gives some of the audience their own roles as pub regulars, positioning them in the thick of the action. And although at times this can seem slightly too close for comfort, it's definitely effective, giving an atmosphere of intimacy and authenticity that makes the experience all the more voyeuristic. ... There's a lot of talent here; the actors are word-perfect, and the interaction between Lady Macbeth and her husband fizzes with affection and tension as their greed and then guilt causes them both to unravel. The boozy bargirl given an updated role of the ‘drunken porter' in the original text is vulgar, charismatic and wonderful; her comedic routine as she both insults and crudely compliments audience members is a highlight of the entire performance. ... The Love & Madness production of Macbeth is a boldly ambitious and original reinterpretation of Shakespearean tragedy, and an endearing and enjoyable success. " - The London Word
" Will Beer's Macbeth is superb as he travels from grateful goon to psychotic guv'nor all with glimmers of Alfie (in the Michael Caine days before Jude Law messed it up) and Danny Dyer. Jody Watson makes Lady Macbeth not so much isolated ice queen, but rather over-aspiring nosy neighbour and slots her into the chosen period with absolute perfection. The decision to give Lady Macduff – Lucia McAnespie – the porter's scenes is meanwhile utterly inspired, performed with the comic timing of a pro. " - Science Is A Lie
" Forgoing rustic bleakness for urban grit, Shakespeare's tale of vaulting ambition has been transported to a 1960's East End pub in a Neil Sheppeck production which doesn't stint on intensity right up to last orders. The story of one man's lust for power, his murderous betrayal of friends and his bloody demise seems tailor-made for a gangland re-interpretation and played at a hurtling pace, the dramatic action shines through. ... Will Beer's Macbeth betrays an earthy violence couched in the mind of a man who feels resolutely more wronged against than wrong. In this mould his rule is less a kingly tyranny and more a series of impulsive acts with Beer doing well to foreground worldly paranoia. ... This is not a Macbeth that needs much convincing to act and Jody Watson's fantastic Lady Macbeth portrays more a voracious social climber with an evil bent than puppet master to an uxorious husband. A lack of murderous sangfroid is replaced by a skittish anxiety and the sleepwalking scene, her “great perturbation of nature”, is played with both fantastic depths of despair and flights of disorientation that provide an expert evocation of a disturbed mind. ... admirably relentless and exciting in grasping the play afresh " - Whats On Stage
" Pivotal to the epic is a fresh-faced Will Beer in the title role. His turn as an impressionable Jack the Lad was an un-orthodox choice for the usually world-weary and haggard medieval warrior. As the play continues, however, he develops and becomes ever more convincing as a young man in conflict, ruled by insecurity. His brittle character makes a very gentle Lady Macbeth (Jody Watson) compatible, and their electrifying sexual chemistry enables her to tenuously maintain manipulative control. ... Mr. Sheppeck chose to forego the Porter character, instead, having his contribution ingeniously delivered by Lady Macduff (Lucia McAnespie). She was a true joy as she drunkenly postponed attending to the knocking. Her mastery of animated facial timing ignited what is often a problematic and antiquated monologue, into the comic way station Shakespeare would have intended. ... The true commanding performances belonged to Matthew Sim as Duncan and Dan Mullane as Macduff. Mr. Sim is every bit the Godfather, whose Napoleonic stature greasily commands ultimate respect. Mr. Mullane is the only cast member who smacks of the brutal alpha-male empowerment one expects of a killer who will stop at nothing in the pursuit of justice. His reaction to the fate of his family is gut-wrenchingly moving. The culminating nail-biting finale, skilfully choreographed by Gordon Kemp, literally had the audience on the edge of their seats, not least because they were located within the knife-wielding combat-zone itself. " - Extra! Extra!