The story of Macbeth and his act of treachery on his King is one of Shakespeare’s finest, which is saying something! There will be few going to see this production that will be seeing the play for the first time, other than the younger members of the audience. We all carry a large amount of baggage when seeing Shakespeare’s work. Whether it’s a dodgy English teacher droning on about it when you were 16 or an unforgettable version you saw 10 years ago. It’s tough to breathe new life into something that is so familiar, but Fast Intent do an impressive job of just that.
This version of Macbeth aims to change the Boys School in Smock Alley into an Elizabethan playhouse. The setting of the Boys School is already quite atmospheric with a number of balconies running around the stage and also a large stone wall at its centre. Fast Intent use a timber stair and landing also, which allowed the actors to access the first level. The company make great use of the surroundings, with the three sisters appearing on different sides of the balconies to surround Macbeth. There is constant movement through the various levels, with the actors appearing from and disappearing to the numerous exits. There are drums and other percussion instruments played off stage to add to the drama and tension.
The cast are all recent graduates and all of a similar age. There are only 9 cast members, so a number of actors take on more than one role. It took more than a moment and a scramble through the programme to realise that Duncan had not returned from the dead, and that it was just the same actor playing Macduff (Finbar Doyle). In truth, even 9 cast members is quite a large number for this small production, so you just have to run with it!
The various impressive elements listed above would come to nothing if the cast were not strong enough to carry the tale, and the two main actors deserve considerable praise. Gerard Adlum is an impressive Macbeth and Jennifer Laverty stole many scenes with her portrayal of Lady Macbeth. This is a lively and inventive performance of the Shakespeare classic and the young cast and crew deserve high praise.
Photo by Ste Murray
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Keith Thompson
Set Design by Cait Corkery
Costumes by Carol Conway