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Promo image for Macbeth by The Lodestar Theatre Company.Macbeth

Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool

Selected Dates (With A Midsummer Night’s Dream) from September 23 – October 13

Author: William Shakespeare
Director: Max Rubin
Producer: Lodestar for The Liverpool Shakespeare Festival
Composer: Howard Gray
AV Design: Jamie Jenkin
Cast Includes: Michael Ryan, Zoe Lister, Jack Rigby, Adam Search, Jamie Hampson, Shaun Mason
Running Time: 2 hrs

Setting any Shakespeare play in the here and now is, more often than not, a risk that often fails to pay off. So on hearing that Director Max Rubin had decided to set this production of Macbeth in 21st Century Liverpool and turned the action into contemporary Gang Warfare, whilst keeping to the original text, it has to be said that the heart did sink somewhat in the chest; Wackbeth more than Macbeth? Surely not?

Macbeth by The Lodestar Theatre Company.However, with that said – and thanks in no small part to a superb cast, a devastatingly stripped back set design and some superb graphics and stage effects – what Rubin has delivered is a staging of what quite possibly is The Bard’s most popular play that is pretty near faultless.

From first to last, what takes place is deeply absorbing and, once you get used to the fact that the action is taking place in this city and that the characters are supposed to have Scouse accents, the scenes meld into the familiar though with just enough edge of originality that turns that same sinking heart into a soaring bird.

What we have here is Once Upon A Time in America with Elizabethan language, which if you’ve seen The Wire – and all that ghetto talk that requires subtitles – isn’t as difficult to get a grip on as might first be imagined.

Again, this is because the young cast – many of whom are recent LIPA graduates – are so gifted. In particular, Michael Ryan in the lead is simply mesmerising as the scheming, egotistical, easily-led wannabe king, particularly alongside the equally duplicitous Zoe Lister as his Lady. Here are two displays of acting that are quite simply worth the ticket price alone, as the action spins in and around their murderous plans – and burgeoning madness – like a fast flowing river that refuses to be dammed.

MacbethSuperb too are Jack Rigby as Banquo, whose uninvited appearance at the feast will live long in the memory, and Adam Search as Macduff, whose anger and rage is almost tangible as things spiral ever more out of control.

Indeed, the entire cast turn in consummate performances and so make Lodestar’s production of Macbeth an astonishingly good night of conceptual theatre that will have new and old audiences alike talking about it for a very long time to come.

Special mention should be given to Jamie Jenkin, as it is his graphics that really add an extra dimension to proceedings and, also, allow the audience an accessibility that might otherwise be denied. This is important, as those attending a production of Shakespeare may not have The Royal Court on their list of venues. Hopefully, after seeing this production, this is an opinion that will change and so offer even greater opportunities for those actors of Liverpool who might not have the opportunities – not only in classical theatre roles, but in more serious and edgy dramatic productions generally – to showcase their talents in this magnificent venue.

Chris High.


Image link: Royal Court Theatre  official website



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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