This was my first visit to Wilton’s Music Hall and it was certainly a memorable one. For those of you who haven’t been to this theatre yet, it really is a remarkable space. Originally an 18th Century ale-house and then 19th Century music hall, the interior is spectacular and makes for a unique theatre space in East London.
Taking my seat, the production started with a bang; but less than 10 minutes into the opening scene the lights came on and the show was paused due to a cast injury (Lauryn Redding). After a 45 minute recuperation, talk of dislocated knees, and the recruitment of Emma Barclay, an audience member who had previously performed with the production, it was decided that the show must go on. The curse of the Scottish play would not win this time!
This is a relatively traditional military interpretation of Macbeth, but with the unusual addition of popular music throughout the play. Apart from the occasional jarring moment and the sound being too bassy or loud at points, this worked very well. I particularly liked Banquo’s murder scene, combined with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s jazz rendition of Gregory Porter’s L-O-V-E. The cast’s singing ability was good, but special mention must go to Lucy Keirl whose voice was exceptional.
The ten-strong cast navigated Shakespeare’s tragedy with great ease, even after the shock of losing their injured cast member. Billy Postlethwaite as Macbeth and Robyn Sinclair as Banquo put in stellar performances, but the star of the show was certainly Emma McDonald, playing Lady Macbeth. She was a truly captivating performer and played the psychological demise of the Scottish queen with great conviction and an enormous amount of stage presence. Her “out damned spot” scene left me on the edge of my seat and genuinely quite terrified.
The production feels rather complicated, with a multi-level stage, singing, instruments and detailed choreography. Certainly Paul Hart has done a wonderful job of directing, but although the production feels slick, occasionally there is too much going on.
This is a high octane, interesting production of Macbeth. In the face of difficulty the sheer gumption of the cast, the director and Emma Barclay only served to buoy the drama. It is not one to be missed!
Written by: William Shakespeare
Directed by: Paul Hart
Produced by: Watermill Ensemble
Booking Link: https://www.wiltons.org.uk/whatson/609-macbeth
Booking until: 15 February 2020