Perth Theatre 4 stars A clatter, a thump and a piercing drone usher in the opening battle scene of Rachel O'Riordan's all too manly Macbeth, which points up how some little boys violent ambition can damage them more than they already are. This is self-evident in the all-lads-together bromance between Keith Fleming's Macbeth and Michael Moreland's Banquo, who thrust, swagger and sneer, even as the three Witches promise Macbeth the world. The Witches themselves are twisted, pandrogynous figures, played by three of the almost all male cast, who whip off their greatcoats to reveal tightly bound torsos. It is the same later, when Richard Conlon dons a skirt as the Gentlewoman who reveals a Lady Macbeth on the verge of mental collapse. It's as if the female of the species in its entirety are blessed with mystical powers beyond man's ken. With Lady Macduff excised completely, Leila Crerar's Lady M is the only actual woman onstage. Rather than play her as some black-hearted dominatrix, Crerar's portrayal is of a girlish, highly sexualised, libido-driven figure, who enters clad in bird-like white, and who seems to relish the plot to murder Duncan as a particularly nasty game. Until, that is, it goes too far. Set against the high-walled, steel grey ramparts of Kenny Miller's set, for all the machismo on show, no-one is ever allowed to run riot in O'Riordan's production. Fleming in particular shows an eloquent degree of understated control, even at Macbeth's most deranged state. There is some degree of charisma too from Moreland and Paul Rattray as Banquo. Born of woman as they are, for the surviving soldiers, proving they're men is everything as they march towards a fragile future.
The Herald, September 23rd 2013 ends