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Macbeth

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Four stars

All the ladies in the house strut their stuff with the nobility of queens at the opening of this all-female take on Shakespeare's Scottish play, performed in Ian Wooldridge's dynamic production by a cast of twelve second year BA Acting students. This makes for a bold opening statement as they pace the catwalk-styled stage area, dressed almost identically in black, but with key personal motifs, be it for combat, the elements or for the greatest power to come.
 
Seven performers take on the role of Macbeth over the course of the play's interval-free hundred-minute duration, with four more playing Lady M. Such mantle-passing switches of identity may allow each actress a fair stab at the two main roles, but more significantly it heightens each facet of their ever-morphing characters. While Macbeth is by turns soldier, statesman, monarch and madman, his partner in crime takes a similar journey, from devoted wife to doomed social climber and beyond. Inbetween they take on all other roles, including an ever multiplying tribe of Weird Sisters.

This makes for a thrillingly primal piece of work, in which Wooldridge enables a cracking ensemble to revitalise and reinvent a play more readily steeped in machismo with an altogether different kind of energy. So while Macbeth's henchman go off on their killing spree, it is Lady M who initiates the rutting up against the wall with her husband.

When in the final act Macbeth has his misguided exchange with Macduff regarding“man that of woman born,” the lines are given renewed vigour as the king is pretty much slain by his own words in a final cacophonous melee that gives full vent to the play's female heart.

The Herald, January 19th 2017

ends

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