We're delighted to share 14-year-old Theo McKeown's review of Macbeth at the Redcliffe Caves. Theo is a pupil at the Ashton Learning Centre and we were privileged to have him attend our performance.
On Friday I went to see Macbeth. The production company, Insane Root, is a Bristol based company who say on their website "We are passionate about making the inaccessible accessible - from bringing life to abandoned sites and making Shakespeare make sense". With this production they did an excellent job in achieving that goal.
The setting of this performance, Redcliffe Caves, makes you feel like you're in the moment. The dark spookiness of the caves enhances the atmosphere of the play. Following the actors to different parts of the caves helps you feel more involved with what’s going on around you. For example in the last battle scene you feel like you're a warrior caught up in the action.
There is no big speaker system so all of the sound effects are done by the actors’ voices. The witches make mysterious clicking, hissing and humming noises. This creates a very creepy effect. The banqueting scenes are made more lively by the actors singing. Music is also used after Duncan’s death which creates a sadder atmosphere. In the build up to the battle scene you hear a drum beat in the background which adds to the tension.
There is a cast of only seven people which means they have to double up on some parts. I found this better because it made the caves less crowded. The actors managed to make their individual characters stand out so there was no confusion. The cast as a whole didn't make a single mistake even though some of them had to memorise two different parts. They were all very believable in showing the characters’ emotions; they also managed to hold my attention throughout the whole performance. I am a very good person to test this on because I can get distracted very easily.
Ben Crispin who played Macbeth did an exceptional job of holding the play together. He displayed great versatility in portraying the range of Macbeth’s emotions. His journey from heroic general to power crazed murderer was totally believable and astonishingly, he managed to hold my attention all the way through. His "tomorrow and tomorrow..."; speech was a very memorable part of the performance as was his bloodthirsty death.
Nicola Stuart-Hill who played Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff, made each character unique. Lady Macbeth was sly and evil, whereas I was particularly mesmerized by Lady Macduff’s reactions to her daughter’s death. An unintentional funny moment occurred when Macbeth killed Siward’s son and the actor (Rebecca Newman) had to crawl under the table to get out of the way for the next fight scene. The other actors all gave strong performances so there were no weak moments to let the play down.
Personally I think this particular performance was done considerably well and I would highly recommend that you go and see this. I went into the caves worrying whether or not I was going to enjoy it, in the end I came out with a huge grin on my face.
- Theo McKeown