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Review of Macbeth at the University College London

Macbeth UCLThe Scottish play is supposedly tainted by bad luck, so UCL Drama Society’s production proved. This open-air performance of Macbeth comes towards the end of a ‘Festival of Culture, which brought with it a feeling of excitement and folk charm reminiscent, perhaps, of original productions in the Globe. However, the festivities also brought a huge and various array of challenges, and perhaps some bad luck.

First, a great big red bus was parked where the stage was supposed to be, as part of the ‘Culture Week’, entirely obscuring one of the three witches; then a kind of sumo wrestling competition threatened to drown out the cast; then the volume system on the sound desk stopped working; most of the cast could be seen crawling and hiding behind the set between scenes; the witches forgot large chunks of text, and then and then and then.

Given the circumstances, the cast did extremely well. Projecting over London traffic, nearby parties and still maintaining diction and tone is a difficult job and particular credit here goes to Banquo (played by Dan Barber) and Macbeth (Erik Alstad). Some of the cast seemed a little afraid of the audience, performing many of their lines upstage or to the wings, which dramatically reduced audibility. Overall, UCL DramSoc battled against the circumstances bravely.

Despite the challenges it produced, the decision to stage the play in UCL’s main quad was a good one. Macbeth’s vain search for glory was at once enhanced and diminished by the grand classical architecture around him. The sense that the search for greatness is a desperate one was strong here.

The significant utilisation of metre and rhythm was delayed until the ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’ speech, delivered somewhat hoarsely by a worn out, failing Macbeth. This was also the first speech really delivered close to the audience, producing greater empathy in a play which can leave the audience hating everyone, reducing the sense of catharsis intended. Instead, Alstad’s performance was simple and direct, communicating regret and bitterness alongside traces of selfish ambition.

For UCL, both ‘Macbeth’ and Macbeth face challenges to their success. Much as the Scottish king’s rise to glory is tainted by dissatisfaction, the success of this production remained distinctly ambiguous.

3 Star Review

Review by Jo Blog

Synopsis:
“A once-loyal soldier and his wife follow their insatiable ambition into the darkest parts of human nature. This production is a terrifying, disorienting plunge into the horrors of war and civil unrest.”

Cast:
First Witch – Lorna Miri
Second Witch – Xara Zabihi Dutton
Third Witch – Olivia Burgin
Duncan – Miles Blanch
Malcolm – Poppy Crumpton
Sergeant – Ari Rajaonesy
Lennox – Jamie Hardie
Ross – Luke Duncan
Macbeth – Erik Alstad
Banquo – Dan Barber
Lady Macbeth – Olivia Burgin
Messenger – Abi Hunter
Fleance – Udoka Maya Okonkwo
Porter – Miles Blanch
Macduff – Matt Turbett
Old Woman – Udoka Maya Okonkwo
Seyton – Eve Kotsis
Murderers – Xara Zabihi Dutton & Abi Hunter
Lord – Matt Turbett
Lady Macduff – Lorna Miri
Macduff’s Son – Ari Rajaonesy
Doctor – Miles Blanch
Siward – Abi Hunter
Siward’s Son – Eve Kotsis

CREW
Directors – Sia Kim & Udoka Maya Okonkwo
Producers – Ari Rajaonesy & Khadeejah Abdul Halim
Assistant Producer – Xara Zabihi Dutton
Composer – Gabriel Ware
Fight Choreographer – Catherine Looby

UCL Main Quad
https://www.ucl.ac.uk/

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