Macbeth- a tragedy

Last night a friend and I went to The Cockpit in Marylebone to watch a “modern interpretation of Macbeth”. However the only modern thing about the event was what appeared to be the entire office wear collection from Zara sported by most, if not all, of the cast. I know this because I spent the better part of the first act admiring Lady Macbeth’s court shoes which I had almost purchased myself last month.

Remember the days of being dragged to watch what felt like mind numbingly dull enactments of Shakespearean plays as part of your GCSE drama/English literature course. Actually, remember watching end of year assembly plays at school put on by the lower years in which you notice the parents have a permanently fixed looked of what can only be described as both grimace and embarrassment hidden beneath an unconvincing prideful smile. Well this was that. I sat watching a group of adults awkwardly act their way through their drama teacher’s self proclaimed “modern interpretation” of Macbeth. The experience was made all the more banal by the group of pre-teens (clearly forced to be there as part of a school outing) sat to my left sniggering and fidgeting throughout the production.

But let’s start at the beginning. The first Act so to speak. Jess and I turned up at the venue at exactly 7.30pm having rushed there after a quick after work meal at Nando’s (the perfect start to a cultured evening in my opinion). We were then ushered towards the entrance of the performance area having been told the play had not in fact started yet but was just about to. We mentioned that we both needed to dash to the loo quickly first and although this was met with an expression of distress by the usher, we thought nothing of it. Having relieved ourselves we headed back toward the entrance of the performance area whereupon the usher informed us that we would not be granted entry to our seats as the play had begun and we’d have to wait “a few minutes”. Naturally, we both assumed that perhaps the seating was inaccessible except via the stage and thus understood her reasoning. At 5 minutes the foot tapping begun, at 8 minutes I began to sigh and at 10 minutes I began shifting my weight from foot to foot as I became obviously aware of the fact that I’d been in heels for over 10 hours. 15 minutes later we were finally granted access behind the wondrous black curtain that separated us from the performance area. We entered what can only be described as an indoor barn of sorts with seating which in no way obstructed or was in fact part of the ‘stage’. Granted we are all aware of the faux pas of entering a play late and this was made evidently clear to us by one of the actors who stood with us behind the curtain awaiting her cue. She tutted and shook her head as another late-comer joined us.

Now, unless the first 15 minutes revealed a crucial explanation of the storyline, it is somewhat bewildering as to why Jess and I found the rest of the play particularly hard to follow. After all we had both studied Macbeth at GCSE and were aware of the plot, however the characters (whom all donned formal wear hence the ‘modern’ categorisation) were surprisingly difficult to identify. In fact, other than the inclusion of a plasma screen within this barn which occasionally lit up with the words ‘Bank of Dunsinane’ to further establish the banking industry theme; another “modern” plot twist to the play, and the periodic screen shots of a ‘breaking news story’, the play was no more indicative of the financial industry than Come Dine With Me is of a fine dining experience. However, I suppose casting the 3 witches (one of whom was actually a male and yet was often referred to as a ‘sister’) as journalists seemed rather apt.

However, as I sat there struggling to keep my eyes open for the better part of the 2 and a half hour production, one actress did command my attention. Lady Macbeth, performed by Danielle Stagg, was captivating. She played the part brilliantly and in my opinion, vastly out-shone her husband, ironically the play’s namesake.

Overall, I’m sorry to say the production felt incredibly amateur with no clear ‘modern’ adaptation and bar Lady Macbeth, the performances by the majority of the cast were drab, unexciting and at times a bit over the top. Unfortunately I would not recommend this play unless you wish to relive your school days of enduring tedious production pieces with overly enthusiastic and somewhat awkward performers.

In contrast, last Saturday I travelled to Finsbury Park to watch Sarah Rutherford’s ‘Adult Supervision’ at the Park Theatre. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much during a play. There is no description for it other than absolutely brilliant. A gripping piece on racial tensions and multi-culturalism within middle-class suburbia in London. Awkwardly hilarious at times the play is stolen by ‘Izzy’ (Olivia Poulet) whose string of racial faux pas and bumbling nature is both endearing and priceless. I highly recommend and urge everyone to go and see this and I sincerely hope the production is taken to the West End.

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