Sunday, 13 October 2013

Macbeth gets a city banker twist


Banquo (Ian Grant), Duncan (Michael Mayne) and Macbeth (Steven Maddocks)

Saturday night saw us travelling to Marylebone to The Cockpit Theatre, a small fringe theatre not far from Baker Street, where we caught a fabulous new production of Macbeth by theatre company Infinite Space.

Macbeth has it all. Ambition, greed, ruthlessness - all themes that mirror the perception we have of life in the city and banking sectors. So it's the perfect Shakespearean play to get a modern interpretation and with this fabulous production from Infinite Space Theatre Company we see the tale of two houses set behind the doors of the City.

The Royal Bank of Dunsinane is large and seemingly indestructible, but as we all know to our cost, large banks and corporations can fall as quickly as they seem to rise. The bank is led by Duncan and we see Macbeth (who is manipulated and urged on by his ambitous and ruthless wife) seek and succeed to take over, with the prompting of the witches, this time appearing as tabloid journalists. We see the rise and fall of Macbeth and The Royal Bank of Dunsinane, which in it's final days, succumbs to an aggressive take-over bid by Birnam Wood bank supported by the Bank of England.

First Witch (Miranda Colmans) and Macbeth (Steven Maddocks)


This production is slick and the set minimal, with a clever use of a TV screen and video. All performances are strong - it's refreshing to see so many female actors taking the more traditional roles normally played by men, particularly Macduff, the HR director, who defects to Birnam Wood with horrific consequences. Played by Fran Trewin, the transposal of male to female doesn't ever seem out of place - her performance is heartfelt and sincere.
Macduff (Fran Trewin) and Malcolm (Thom Petty)


Shakespeare is only ever as good as the cast who are taking it on. If the actors don't feel and interpret the rhythm and meaning of the words then the play is lost to a modern audience. This cast all gave very strong performances and even with the added twist of setting and theme, they made the story come alive even to those who have never seen Macbeth before. Steven Maddocks as Macbeth owned the stage with a performance that was both a brilliant execution of this iconic character to a modern day audience, while having great stage presence. Slick suited and grasping a Costa Coffee cup, he is every inch the young banker punching above his weight while believing in his arrogance, that everything is on his side.
Lady Macbeth (Danielle Stagg) and Macbeth (Steven Maddocks)

Lady Macbeth is beautifully played by Danielle Stagg. We see her change from manipulative, demanding power broker, to tortured soul who cannot live with the consequences of the couples actions. We see her power suited and the perfect hostess to Macbeth's corporate entertaining, however the ice-queen demeanor doesn't last long and in her final scenes she turns to desperate and driven mad by her guilt and imaginings. We feel her pain.

Banquo, an elder statesman in the banking industry and non-executive director, is played by Ian Grant who brings a gravitas that is needed here. He is the perfect foil to Macbeth's slick city boy behaviour, and the handling of the ghost scenes after his death via video and high above the stage on the balcony were clever and well integrated.

All in all a great night out. Fine Shakespeare for £14 is an absolute bargain. If you've never been to The Cockpit Theatre it's actually a really nice, comfortable space with a great little bar - a cut above most fringe theatres especially in  London.

This Infinite Space Theatre production is only on for a limited run so make sure you don't miss it as it ends next Saturday 26th October - check out The Cockpit Theatre for tickets (£14) and let me know what you think...


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