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Theatre Review: Macbeth

23 July 17 words: Kevin Stanley

A spot of darkness and brooding casts a shadow over a summer evening

Oddsocks' Macbeth

Touring theatre group Oddsocks has developed an enjoyable, funny, musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth. If that isn’t odd enough they’ve chosen to perform the entire play in Steampunk style, with fantastic costumes and a wonderfully detailed and colourful set.

I doubt it’s what Shakespeare himself had in mind when he wrote his tragic play of unfettered ambition, regicide and witchcraft, but I do believe that he would enjoy thoroughly the show. And any adaptation that fills theatres and open air venues for dozens of evenings over the British Summer and brings young and old, fresh and seasoned, audience members to experience a play that was written over 400 years ago is certainly a good thing.

The actors, six in total, introduced themselves and spoke to the audience members before the show, at the interval and occasionally even broke the fourth wall during the play - mostly for comic effect. I thought it was especially nice that at the interval they spent time speaking to young members of the audience discussing their involvement in school plays and encouraging their interest in Shakespeare and drama.

In this wacky musical adaptation all of the songs and music are performed live on stage by the cast members. Songs included in tonight’s set were Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 'Put A Spell On You', Phil Collins’ 'In The Air Tonight', Arctic Monkeys’ 'The Sun Goes Down', George Thorogood’s 'Bad To The Bone' and Meatloaf’s 'Bat Out Of Hell'. But should you watch the show you may experience an alternate set list featuring the likes of Thin Lizzy’s 'The Boys Are Back In Town', Queen’s 'Killer Queen' and 'Don’t Stop Me Now', Paul McCartney/Wings’ 'Live and Let Die', Tom Petty’s 'Free Falling' and Free’s 'All Right Now'.

Led by founding members Andy Barrow and Elli Mackenzie, the cast members are all talented actors and perform well together, effortlessly adding humour to a play that you might not readily associate with mirth. The result is spectacular. You’ve never  seen a performance of Macbeth anything like this and you’ve never seen a funnier tragedy. A cast so talented to be able to act, sing, dance and perform live music are very worthy of praise.

What the Oddsocks theatre company has created here is a lively and exciting production that is accessible to youngsters but also enjoyable for adults. I always enjoyed reading Shakespeare at school and I’ve seen many live performances of tragedies, comedies and history plays, but I’ve never seen anything remotely like this. Perhaps it’s not for those that consider themselves Shakespearean purists, or anyone who doesn’t enjoy slightly silly humour, but everyone else will most likely have a great evening of entertainment. And despite being heavily abridged the essence of Macbeth is retained - as are large chunks of the most important or interesting dialogue.

Oddsocks has been performing its musical Steam-punk inspired Macbeth and its Mods and Rockers musical twist on Romeo and Juliet across the UK all summer long. Most events are outdoor but there are a few indoor events and the company perform right up until early September. Tickets are still available for most upcoming shows. Highly recommended.

Macbeth was at Palace Theatre Newark on Thursday 20 July 2017.

Oddsocks website

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