Theatre review: Macbeth @ Omnibus and Clapham Common

Clapham theatregoers will soon realise that Omnibus’ production of Macbeth is not your typical Shakespearean experience.

For starters, there’s no tartan, no pointed hats for the witches, no translucent ghosts and… no theatre.

Director Gemma Kerr’s vision for the production is a country broken by conflict – ‘a world that has forgotten what peace means’.

The backdrop of post-apocalyptic London lends itself perfectly to the play, presenting Macbeth as a refuge solider whose milk of human kindness is stolen from him, both by self-destruction and his wife.

While Gregory Finnegan was outstanding as Macbeth arguably the most impressive role played was that of Clapham itself which provided the actors with the most versatile of stages.

The first of the three witches utters to her cackling coven: “Where shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain? Upon the heath.”

“Where shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain? Upon the heath.”

And, quite aptly, the play opened upon Clapham’s very own muddy heath, Clapham Common, with the audience standing in the drizzling rain praying for neither thunder or lightning to accompany it.

The witches symbolise the homeless –pariahs of a war-torn nation. They lead the audience through the park by torch-light pouring their prophecies into our ears and warming our cold cheeks with laughter.

The audience firsts meets Macbeth by the light of a small bonfire on Clapham Common.

Dressed in the distressed attire of a soldier, Macbeth leads the audience to a grubby alley near the common, where we as the audience huddled in the moonlight under a rusty and decrepit balcony, nervously shuffling in anticipation.

As Macbeth merged into the shadows beside us, Jennifer Jackson appeared as Lady Macbeth dressed in only her undergarments and a thin, black coat smoking a cigarette.

She is effortlessly evil, nonchalantly spitting her poisonous thoughts at the audience, as her breath turned to vapour in the cold night air.

“She is effortlessly evil, nonchalantly spitting her poisonous thoughts at the audience.”

After succumbing to the chill of the night air I, along with the rest of the audience, am relieved to take cover in the living room of an empty, dilapidated house and sit back, relax and watch Lady Macbeth work her murderous magic.

As Finnegan delivers his finest scene he reaches for the dagger he sees before him with the lights palpitating, illuminating his face one instant and plunging him into darkness the next, which really alludes to his manic state of mind.

Finnegan’s performance is genius, creating the perfect balance between menace and guilt.

The gory trials and tribulations of Macbeth and his wife have been told countless times, yet this production offers something new.

The production company are outstanding, there is not an aspect of the play which is left untouched and the nine multi-rolling actors harmonise together perfectly, delivering a seamless, captivating and unique performance of the Shakespearean play.

Fair is foul and fair is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air with Omnibus’ Macbeth until November 29.

To buy tickets, click here.

Picture courtesy of Angus Stewart, with thanks

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