Review of Macbeth by NODA

The thriving atmospheric setting of Peterborough’s Central Park once again played host to Mask Theatre whose superb reputation for award-winning, top-quality, professional-standard productions precedes them. The weather held out and I was fortunate to receive a friendly reception by the front of house team and Director Emma Goldberg on Mask Theatre’s final performance of Macbeth at this venue ahead of a short tour. It was encouraging to see a well-attended audience with a richly diverse mix including several younger people.
Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy of an ambitious nobleman and his even more ambitious wife is in solid hands with Director Emma Goldberg’s production which explores the rich themes of power, corruption and greed.
The play opens and closes in battle scenes choreographed by Becky Owen Fisher and Ryan Blackburn which may have benefited from more violence and gore. We are introduced to Carl Perkins as Macbeth, whose Herculean stature is well suited to playing the famous soldier who becomes King. The blood and gore was plentiful however during Banquo’s murder and subsequent haunting of Macbeth. Banquo played by Phil Lewis had excellent diction and projection and particularly strong physicality during the banquet when the ghost of the bloodied Banquo appears before Macbeth. Phil was a very physical actor and excellent casting. Carl Perkins as Macbeth played the paranoia when visited by Banquo in this scene very well.
Summer Moeed played a sublimely sinister and selfish serpent-like Lady Macbeth with a superbly dramatic first speech and perfect clarity. Carl and Summer worked very well opposite each other, and Summer’s Lady Macbeth achieved an excellent journey throughout the play growing stronger and more manipulative of her husband throughout the night. Emma Goldberg has clearly chosen a very strong leading lady to push the themes of gender and power in this production as it is Summer’s Lady Macbeth who appears the most ambitious and ruthless character of the night.
I see from the Director’s notes that Emma’s biggest fear was the portrayal of the witches without them becoming an object of ridicule. Well, Emma and her witches, Suzanne Tuck, Becky Owen Fisher and Cheryl Livingstone have done a fantastic job and achieve an unnerving eeriness coupled with a blend of harmony and discord amongst all three as they prophesise of Macbeth’s ascension to King. I note Cheryl’s ceaseless unsettling physicality and Becky’s expert sinister cackle in particular. All three made striking entrances stooped over in masks with long matted wigs and adopting slightly Scottish accents. They should be commended. I thought the “toil and trouble” scene at the top of Act II was excellent as the witches continue to feed Macbeth’s ambition.
Further praise for the phenomenal resonating voice of Luke Day as Macduff, an exceptional actor who one could see bringing a great truth and understanding to the role. He was a pleasure to watch but that incredible voice was a pleasure to hear. Towards the end of the night we had some great change of lighting for the final scenes leading to the climactic finale with Macbeth dying at the hands of Macduff. In fact, the technical team should be congratulated for the effective lighting but also the wonderfully-timed sound effects, perfectly balanced, enhancing the atmosphere even further.
One final nod to Harvey Jones as Young Siward for the best death of the night at the hands of Macbeth.
This was a solid production, well-directed with plenty of action, some excellent individual performances and a strong supporting company in a perfect outdoor venue. Best wishes to the company as they embark on their tour.