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South East
posted/updated: 03 Oct 2011 -
William Shakespeare
society/company: Sevenoaks Shakespeare Society
performance date: 23 Jun 2011
venue: Plaza Suite, STAG Community Arts Centre, Sevenoaks
reviewer/s: Adele Deakins (Sardines Review)

When I offered to review Macbeth I wondered if I would understand the play at all. I am sorry to admit I have not seen or read very many Shakespeare productions. However, having seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream and taken part in Twelfth Night, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I thought I would understand it. I didn’t!

The Plaza Suite is a small, intimate area and was all in black with staging on three levels. The three witches opened the play and (excuse the pun) were spell binding, particularly the First Witch - Lauren-Jean Reeves. They in my mind stole the show. Never relaxing for a minute and with very few words, they did not stop acting and reacting to the plot as it unfolded. The plain costumes and make up were very impressive with the Second Witch (Emma Richardson) drooling blood throughout the whole performance. In fact, after the performance other members of the audience were talking about this too. Having said that, unfortunately the pole banging was very loud and carried on during some of the speeches.

Thrust staging is always going to make it difficult to hear some of the lines clearly and with this being the language of Shakespeare, made it a little hard to understand when spoken quickly. Stephne Malyon (as Duncan/Macduff and the Doctor) and Cathy Bourne (as Lady Macbeth) played their characters very well speaking clearly and deserve a special mention. Richard Banks as Macbeth needed prompting and did not have enough variation in his voice to express the mood changes he required. Even the well known speeches faltered which I felt was unforgivable.

The cast were larger than life, especially in the fight scenes, where I found myself leaning back for fear of one of them crashing off the stage. However, in such a small area with the audience very close to the action, I felt more than worried when some of the staging moved around. The fight scene - with extremely large heavy swords - was clumsy and again too close to the edges.

With minimum props, effective lighting and pyrotechnics, this was a good performance but I felt would have benefitted from more line rehearsals and enunciation to ensure that those of us who didn’t know the story could at least pick it up!

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