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Review: Macbeth, The Playhouse, Cheltenham

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: March 02, 2014

By Judith Wordsworth

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A disappointingly small audience for this last night in Cheltenham enjoyed an excellent and imaginative performance by Blue Orange Theatre Company of the “Scottish” play.

According to theatrical superstition speaking the name Macbeth inside a theatre will cause disaster possibly from the play’s first performance when an actor died because a real dagger was mistakenly used instead of the stage prop.

This play opens in a subtly lit churchyard with headstones draped in tartan cloaks.

Whilst the background operatic soundtrack distracted slightly from the opening scene, Oliver Hume (Macbeth) and the 3 Witches (Emma Sian Cooper, Rebecca Rochelle and Toni Griffiths) performed a well-choreographed, though somewhat in energy, slow motion fight with clashing swords and a forward flash to Macbeth’s demise.

Cloaks and sashes, in differing tartans, were well manoeuvred by the Witches to portray the play’s many other characters, and even the same character.

This helped make the multi-rolling clear to the audience. Lady Macbeth was played to great effect by all 3 actresses in one scene in the first act. This was a very clever theatrical device by Mark Webster (Director) as was the use of the stage lighting, music and sounds (Jon Bates & Nadeem Chughtal) to change mood and scene setting.

Hume caught Macbeth’s swings from unconfident to despotic forthrightness and back again with convincing expertise.

The versatility of the actresses showed in their ability to move from dark and malevolent Witches with Scottish accents to high born Lords and lowly common servants with ease.

The Webster treatment given to the famous “Hubble bubble toil and trouble” produced a fresh and different take on this scene. Cooper’s performance of Lady Macbeth’s “out damn spot” was impressive as was her acting throughout the play, an actress to watch out for in the future!

It would be well worth making a trip to one of the other venue’s on this tour to see this very different and successful production.

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