Stars explained: * A production of no real merit
with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not
enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real
life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A
good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely
achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a
great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major
flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic
which lifts theatre to another plane.
The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster
MACBETH is one of Shakespeare’s shorter plays and, as plots go, it’s not complicated.
One man’s ambition to become King is fulfilled by a string of murders that lead to his own end. Are the witches, ghosts and aspirations he encounters a product of a scheming or guilty mind? Only you can decide, but, what is real, is that this play is one considerable challenge to stage and produce well.
The language is complex even if the plot is not and the detailed talk of politics, treason and mystical prophecy all needs careful direction, not to mention confident performances to get anywhere near doing the work justice.
It was with some relief then that The Nonentities in every part, to use a younger person’s, but fitting phrase, `killed it’, which is to say they were beyond excellent.
In 2016 several of the company members were part The RSC’s play for the nation in A Midsummer Nights Dream. The experience seems to have electrified them with renewed skill and confidence as it seemed that everyone had decided that this was their chance to shine both individually and as a company.
Alex Powell, who only at Christmas was the fresh faced school boy in Fleet Street Nativity, now has grown both a full beard and his performance, taking on the manly role of Macbeth. He never flinched in depth or subtlety in his portrayal of the fated young King.
From moments of quiet introspection to powerful torrents of anger, he seemed transfixed on delivering his best work. Even when parts of the full house, which consisted mostly of a local school, sniggered immaturely at some innuendos or action, neither he nor any of the rest of the cast broke their concentration.
Alex Powell as the ambitious Macbeth with Rebecca Williams
as the even more ambitious Lady Mabeth
Alex Powell as the ambitious Macbeth with Rebecca Williams as the even more ambitious Lady Mabeth
Matched in intensity was Rebecca Williams as Lady Macbeth. Her scheming ambition to further her husband’s murderous acts was deliciously macabre as was her fall into madness wandering the night, lit only by handheld torchlight.
Banquo was played by Sue Downing who seemed to have a casual mastery of the part and Shakespeare in general and was a delight to watch doubling up as The Doctor.
Whilst taking nothing away from the skill of the other performers, the presence and experience of Richard Taylor as MacDuff must be a reassurance and a curse in knowing that he will always deliver but that you mmight just be compared to his performance. His range is always exceptional and when learning as MacDuff that his wife and children are murdered his performance was genuinely emotional.
Tom Rees as Lennox and Patrick Bentley as King Duncan also delivered mature performances as did Andy Bingham and Chris Kay both with strong performances as the implicated sons of the murdered King Duncan .The trio of weird ladies came in the form of Charlotte Moseley, Hannah Tolley and a very brave Kieran Dockerty all decked out in trashy, basques, high heels and fishnets. They certainly were bewitching.
Judy Bassett certainly enjoyed her key solo moment as the Porter holding the audience with her Knock Knock jokes from the audience floor.
There were superb support performances throughout but one small mention must go to the young Rose McCarthy as the young Charlie MacDuff. Her scene with her mother played by Charlotte Mosley was only short but focused and very genuine and she shows great promise.
Jen Eglintons simple yet bleak set design was very effective and Director Stephen Downing has shown great skill in bringing this play to fruition. His part with RCS’s Play for the nation in 2016 seems to have given him the vision to produce something worthy of Stratford.
For purists there might be some critisms or minor points to discuss but it must be remembered this is amateur stage with limited time and budgets but by no means limited talent. I used to say that the only place to see Shakespeare was in Stratford with the RSC but I can now add The Rose with The Nonentities to the list. Consider the bard raised. To 04-03-17
J eff Grant