Review: Macbeth at London's Bridge House Theatre
An inspired new fringe production of the classic Shakespearean play...
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It's the last week of Macbeth and the Bridge House Theatre, in south London's Penge, and it's obvious word of mouth has gotten out. When GT are invited down to review this inspired retelling of one of Shakespeare's best-loved and most-tragic plays, the theatre space (which has only been holding a modest 50 or so throughout the run) is packed to the rafters.
But don't let this minimal seat-count fool you into thinking it's because the play isn't very good. The producers have made a conscious decision to limit their take on Macbeth to such a small and intimate setting, so as to maximise the very power and effect good ol' Bill's words have on the audience. Every facial nuance, personal twist and provocative expression from this incredibly talented cast of performers – most of which are pulling double duty, by the way – is laid bare for all to see.
Stylistically, this production of Macbeth has been brought into the modern day, complete with leather trousers and backpacks – oh, and plenty of gratuitous shirtless scenes from the handsome lead Craig Daniel Adams, which didn't get any complaints from us, that's for sure. There's a reason we got him to do our naked issue a couple of years ago – check your back issues.
Anyway, whichever way you look at it, and however it's presented, Macbeth is a timeless tale of betrayal, lust for power and greed. So why is it, at the Bridge House Theatre, did we start to sympathise with the tyrannical king? Maybe it was the impassioned performance by the aforementioned Craig which started us thinking that, y'know, he just wanted best for his family... or maybe it was the equal brilliance of Thea Beyleveld as the maniacal Lady Macbeth, pulling the puppet strings with bile and venom before her inevitable feelings of regret that made us think, well, maybe she was just playing with fire... either way, we can honestly say that this was Macbeth like we'd never seen it before.
The thing is, we don't think we could've been offered such a unique perspective of this monumental play had it not been for the enchanting setting and the fine cast of actors pulling it all together. There are only a few days left of Macbeth at the Bridge House, so, take it from us, no matter how many times you've seen this play, or how well you think you know it, this is still a production that needs to be seen. Catch it, while you still can.
Limited seats are still available – but going quickly – for 7.30pm shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, plus a matinee show on Saturday. For more, or to buy tickets, visit bhtheatre.co.uk.
Words Ryan Butcher, @ryanjohnbutcher
Image Anton Belmonté