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Feature Review - Paul Gladwell

Having seen a fair few William Shakespeare adaptations over the years you are always hoping that the very next one you see will stand out. Is it possible to put yet another spin on Macbeth? It’s not as though a modern re-working hasn’t been attempted before…. Well, this one definitely delivers….

This is Infinite Space Theatre’s first production. They claim to provide 3 elements – The Accessible, The Compelling and The Innovative. This production gets a tick for all 3. Directed by Nick Hastings, this modern re-working of Macbeth is set against the corporate world of ambition, takeovers and greed in the City.

The performance uses various forms of multimedia which really help with the aims of making this performance accessible and innovative. Sky News style TV recordings of the characters are displayed at the back of the theatre on a widescreen TV, music is used for the impact scenes and some of the dialogue forms mobile phone conversations. They have even put together newspaper pages that are on display at the entrance to the theatre and in the programme; a great idea.

Macbeth is ably played by Steven Maddocks. Dressed in his well turned out City suits he convinces as the high-flier seeking to take power from Duncan (Michael Mayne) who is the head of The Royal Bank of Dunsinane. But then struggling to live with the consequences of his actions, Steven ups his performance as the guilt of Macbeth starts to take its toll.

A story centred on corporate takeovers in the city would not be complete without members of the press. The Three Witches are there to stir the pot!

The second half picks up the pace very quickly as things soon start to unravel for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The paranoia of Lady Macbeth is so apparent thanks to an intense and at times quite scary performance by the brilliant Danielle Stagg.

The Cockpit is a small and intimate venue. The stage (floor really!) is in the middle of the room and the audience can sit around three sides of the square room. At each corner of the room the actors can emerge plus there is a wraparound balcony. The action really does surround you, which this performance really takes advantage of.

I really wanted to give this full marks and I was close. The one gripe was maybe that the performance of Danielle was so good that it eclipsed Steven’s. Should Lady Macbeth outshine Macbeth? I’m not so sure….

Paul Gladwell

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Show Ended: Macbeth

The Cockpit
Gateforth Street, LONDON, NW8 8EH

Show has ended  
Show Genre: Play
Director: Nick Hastings
Author: William Shakespeare
Additional Notes: Tickets: £14.00 / £11.00 Box Office: 020 7258 2925

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A thrilling contemporary setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, set in the treacherous world of finance and double-dealing in the City of London. Can Dunsinane Hill Ltd stave off a hostile takeover by Birnam Wood?

Macbeth, produced by Infinite Space Theatre, directed by Nick Hastings, will premiere at the Cockpit Theatre, London NW8, for a three-week season from Thursday 10 – Saturday 26 October, 2013.

Since the start of the current recession in 2008, the UK banking sector has come under itense scrutiny from the media, politicians and the public. From bank failures to inflated bonuses, rogue trading and financial mis-selling on a massive scale, scandals in the Square Mile have left many of us wondering what really goes on behind the City’s closed doors. Is it just the behaviour of the few which is corrupt? Or has the need to advance one’s own position by any means and screw the consequences for others become endemic in modern business culture?

Macbeth's themes of ambition, prophecy and power-lust are as relevant today as they were 400 years ago when Shakespeare wrote the play. Set in the offices of the investment bank Dunsinane Hill Ltd, this production explores what might become the norm if current trends are left unchecked. Dunsinane Hill is facing an imminent hostile takeover by its progressive rivals, Birnam Wood Plc. Even though it has a determined MD, Duncan’s backward and autocratic leadership style leave him exposed to disloyalty and mutiny. Macbeth, despite his ambition, is not yet ready for the top job. However, Siward, Birnam Wood’s ambitious young female leader, is.

As Macbeth and Lady Macbeth unravel under the consuming force of greed and determination, Hecate and her journalist witches snoop and report on the proceedings. But can they be trusted in an era of phone hacking and press scandals?

Cast: Steven Maddocks (Macbeth), Danielle Stagg (Lady Macbeth), Fran Trewin (Macduff), Ian Grant (Banquo), Elizabeth Kingsman (Fleance), Michael Mayne (Duncan), Thom Petty (Malcolm), Victoria Claringbold (Donalbain), Kathrine Harvey (Ross), Emma Pleass (Lennox), Miranda Colmans (1st Witch), Tim Colmans (2nd Witch/Porter), Rachel Summers (3rd Witch), Esther Eden (Hecate), Ariane Thornton-Mason (Siward) Kayne McCutcheon (Seyton).

Infinite Space Theatre was established in 2012

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