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Macbeth - Nice Swan Theatre Company

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 28th Feb 2013 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge



Macbeth – Nice Swan Theatre Company, The People’s Theatre, Newcastle

 The Scottish play is one of William Shakespeare’s darkest and most powerful tragedies, awash with blood, terror and the weaknesses that make up humanity - which makes it a perfect piece to be given the Nice Swan Theatre Company treatment.

Bold, daring and not afraid to use artistic license to its full advantage, Nice Swan are an eclectic group of talented youngsters who have carved for themselves an enviable reputation for delivering high class, exciting and edgy productions which challenge and stretch the abilities of the company and, indeed, the boundaries of the pieces they perform, too.

When watching a Nice Swan production, it is easy to forget that a number of the performers have only recently completed their professional training in the performing arts and that many more of them are still undertaking the process. Such is the commitment, professionalism, exuberance and talent of all concerned that, all too often, they make some seasoned professional actors seem jaded and unenthusiastic by comparison. Their production of Macbeth is no exception.

Upon entering the auditorium, one is first struck by Kirsty Emery’s impressive set design. The ramparts of Macbeth’s castle and a Sleepy Hollow-inspired gnarled tree, made from swathes of fabric dominate the stage, whilst a cauldron bubbles menacingly in the foreground. This, combined with Chris Miller’s atmospheric lighting design and Andrew McTeer’s evocative sound effects, immediately sets a gloriously gothic tone. The commitment to authenticity is also evident in Mary Ann Trigg’s featured costumes. Indeed, the overall production values are sumptuously sublime and second to none.

The company’s unabashed audaciousness in its approach, once again is triumphant – this time in the decision to cast against type. Michaela Forbes is an actress whom I have always associated – and only ever seen her perform in – understated, mousey roles. Yet, her Lady Macbeth is a compelling, steely, ruthless creation and, despite her petite stature, she is every inch the diminutive diva. It may be open to debate as to whether Lord and Lady Macbeth ever achieved it, but there is no disputing that Forbes and Dale Jewitt (in the title role) are a true partnership of greatness.

Strong support comes from the ever-impressive Tom Whalley (Banquo), Charlie Martin, Laura Stoker and Charlotte Casey (the Witches), Dylan Stafford (Ross), and Jessica Brady (Lady Macduff).

Far from being a cursed production, Nice Swan’s Macbeth is a towering triumph of theatrical talent. The combination of passionate performances, slick staging and technical perfection is a headier brew than anything that could be conjured by those weird sisters. Indeed, if I could change one line in the play, it would be: “By the pricking of my thumbs, something stunning this way comes.”

Steve Burbridge.

Nice Swan Theatre Company’s Macbeth runs at the People’s Theatre, Newcastle until Friday 1 March 2013.

Tickets £12.00 adult, £10.00 concession. Special school and group discounts apply. Box office: 0191 265 5020.


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Nice Swan have done it again! Thanks, Steve.
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