Review: 3*** Macbeth – The Musical. White Bear Theatre #MacbeththeMusical @WhiteBearTheatr @StageSplinters

Tweetingit: 3* Shakespeare meets Avenue Q in a refreshing new treatment of the Scottish Play. The pub crowd will love it!

Shakespeare productions are frequently accused of stuffiness and dense language. But just occasionally an adaptation will break down these barriers. Stage Splinters have produced just such a show with great imagination and potential. Using Avenue Q style puppets and engaging original songs they place Macbeth in an entirely new light. The White Bear is a lovely pub with a neat and compact theatre upstairs.  A basic set is adorned with a simple curtain from which performers emerge. Two TV screens project sketch images prior to every scene; which work surprisingly well although the screens could have been slightly bigger.

For the purpose of visualisation this is the plot they bring to life: somewhere in the Scottish moorlands Macbeth and Banquo, two of King Duncan’s generals come upon three witches. They predict Macbeth’s promotion and elevation to the Kingship of Scotland. It is also foretold that Banquo’s descendants shall be kings. Afterwards, King Duncan names Macbeth Thane of Cawdor in thanks for his success in recent battles, which seems to support the prophecy. Lady Macbeth receives news from her husband about the prophecy and his new title, and vows to help him become king by any means necessary.

The four strong cast comprising Elliot Moore, Eloise Jones, Bryony Reynolds and Red Picasso pull it off with relative ease. They are talented, note perfect performers making light of multiple roles. They are accomplished puppeteers who make the task look a lot easier than it really is. The level of hand to eye co-ordination and the need to deliver a performance is multi-tasking of the very highest order. The occasionally foul mouthed songs are again reminiscent of Avenue Q; which work perfectly well with a narrowly defined audience. This is a show with massive potential, but feels like it’s going through an experimental phase.  As it stands, the show is made for pub theatres but there are all kinds of possibilities to be explored.  Strip out the profanity and it could be taken into schools and become an effective means of teaching Shakespeare in the curriculum. For grown-ups, it can be expended to feature a range of the Bard’s work, much in the same way the Reduced Shakespeare Company operates.  Stage Splinters could well have a hit on their hands; depending on where they go with it?

Author: William Shakespeare

Book Adaptation: Chuma Emembolu and Ruth Nicolas 

Music: Stefan Potiuk and Chuma Emembolu

Musical Director: Stefan Potiuk

Animation Designer: Lizzy C. Rogers

Producer: Stage Splinters

This show has now completed its run.

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