The Dickens Theatre Company kick-started its opening night of Macbeth with an enthralling performance full of revenge and malice at the New Wimbledon Theatre.
This fast-paced and engaging production, directed by Eric Richard, presented the audience with a powerful adaptation of the “Scottish Play”, following the decline of one of Shakespeare’s most infamous characters into insanity.
The Studio stage at the New Wimbledon Theatre, with only 80 seats, allowed for an intimate atmosphere that left no space for the suspense to dissipate into the stalls, but only build rapidly as the performance progressed.
Rob Goll breathed life into Macbeth’s character by bringing a sense of fluidity and power to Shakespeare’s lexis, allowing even those who have not studied the text to understand the anguish and paranoia of this notorious persona.
Watching Goll’s performance of Macbeth’s neurotic hallucinations, fuelled by guilt and fury, could make one forget they were at the theatre and feel truly immersed in the deterioration of the character’s sanity.
Ryan Philpott, who adapted this version of Macbeth, played various characters such as the Porter, Banquo and Macduff, as well as being the audience’s dependable guide throughout the play.
Philpott guided the audience through this harrowing tragedy by consistently breaking the fourth wall and providing the public with a perfect example of pathos and comic relief in true Shakespearean style.
Louise Faulkner, the third and final member of The Dickens Theatre Company, gave a beautifully spine-chilling performance as the witches and Lady Macbeth.
Faulkner’s rendition of Lady Macbeth’s guilt-ridden “Damned Spot” monologue completely captivated the audience as we all craned our necks to look for the spot of blood on her hand that she so desperately wanted to rid herself of; signifying the contamination of Lady Macbeth’s guilt that can never be washed away.
The costume choices were simple yet effective in this performance, consisting of a few hats or coats which the audience soon associated with specific characters when they were donned on stage by the cast.
Faulkner acquired a lace black veil for her role as the witches, as well as two black rag dolls which she held and moved with such fluidity that they transformed into surreal and unearthly beings symbolising the other two “Wayward Sisters”.
The cast were accompanied by suspenseful music, composed by Paul Higgs, which consisted of a low pitch, creeping melody, war drums and the toll of bells. In the small space of the Studio at Wimbledon, this music accompaniment further amplified the building of suspense and apprehension.
The lighting also complimented the performance superbly, with green lighting reflecting on the face of Faulkner and her rag dolls as she played the witches, as well as red lighting highlighting the mortified face of Goll as Macbeth talks of blood and guilt.
Despite the small cast, each actor performed their roles superbly and truly brought to life the themes of guilt, obsession and suspense.
This formidable adaptation of one of William Shakespeare’s most shocking tragedies will send chills down your spine.
Rating: 5/5 ☆☆☆☆☆