The story of the power hungry murderous Macbeth, driven mad with visions from ghosts and a trio meddlesome witches, is familiar to most theatre-goers. As a Shakespeare classic I would say this one is definitely a good one to start with. It is usually one of the shorter ones and moves along at a fair old lick as a story.
This production had an industrial style set with a military feel that fit well with the costumes of the cast. The lighting, a changing background sky and the use of sound gave this the feel of a professional production. That said, in between amplified sections, the speakers should probably be turned down to avoid the mildly distracting hiss.
The cast were all completely immersed in their roles. The three witches were played in a suitably manic, yet controlled way by Sarah Harrison Dowd, Penny Lamport and Ann Cater. Their hair and makeup added nicely to their unhinged appearance. The whole cast did a fabulous job of bringing this story to life, and I can't help feeling that a Tyne and Wear accent is exactly the correct one for Shakespeare. It just sounds right. Johnny Lavelle carried the role of Macbeth expertly and I expect to see him in greater things in the near future. The sword fights and punch ups at the end kept my son enthralled and I was a little worried about the welfare of Johnny and Matthew Hope, as Macduff. They knew what they were doing with the ironwork though. Kevin Gibson, as the King of Scotland, before the bloodbath started, carried his role with a natural style and no over-the-top Shakespearean method, which gave the role a believable and relate-able character. He did a good job as the queen's (lady Macbeth) concerned doctor as well, as she was tortured by her conscience in her dreams. Lady Macbeth was given a passionate rendering by Sarah Scott, who appeared to enjoy the role of the manipulative wife. There was clever direction which kept the pace just right and the use of the well-designed set meant scenes could have a different look every time.
The play was an example of the great quality of theatre we can access in Newcastle upon Tyne, without paying big theatre prices. I doubt a professional performance could improve much on this. The play is not about big expensive sets but about the characters, what drives them and the way they are played by the cast. This production ticked all the right boxes.I tell ye sooth.