Macbeth

Youth Music Theatre UK have done something rather remarkable in their new production of Macbeth. They have created a show that is so original that it stands apart from all other productions of Shakespeare’s tragedy, while simultaneously being polished, engaging and dramatic. Other productions often innovate at the expense of quality, but that is not the case here – this performance is a triumph.

This is innovative, exciting musical theatre, that should appeal to both Shakespeare disciples and fans of contemporary theatre.

The young company have taken the text and have transformed it into an electronic musical set in a futuristic dystopia, without losing meaning or significantly altering Shakespeare’s dialogue. Composer Garth McConaghie’s score is truly outstanding – a fast-paced and energetic fusion of contemporary electronica, dubstep and, surprisingly, opera. This score perfectly matches the rhythm of the text, and provides some catchy and memorable tunes; the 'tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow' soliloquy is particularly impressive. Some of the solo vocal performances are especially powerful – Macbeth (Sam Garioch) and Lady Macbeth (Molly Coffey) have excellent voices, and gave me shivers every time they sang.

During the larger musical numbers, the stage explodes into life, as the large cast takes to the stage en masse to perform impressive choreographed routines. These moments are where the play is at its strongest. The performers are disciplined and professional, with ensemble members backflipping, throwing each other in the air and moving across the stage fluidly.

Director Stuart Harvey has made some excellent creative decisions. In particular, the role of the witches in the play is inspired. Here, they are more than mere prophets – they are puppet-masters, whispering in the characters’ ears, and driving the events of the play. The witches move rigidly, like clockwork, and are unsettling throughout.

During the gaps between the musical numbers, the show loses some of its power. Though the performances are solid – Garioch’s Macbeth is particularly impressive – these segments lack the originality of the musical numbers, and as such fall slightly limp. Further, the show is plagued with sound issues: during both the dialogue and the musical numbers, it is hard to make out some of the language, and some of the performers are far too quiet.

However, these flaws are overshadowed by the many triumphs of this show. This is innovative, exciting musical theatre, that should appeal to both Shakespeare disciples and fans of contemporary theatre.

Reviews by Mark Danciger

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Performances

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The Blurb

'It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood.' Witness urban electronica fused with contemporary choreography and the original text to create Shakespeare as you’ve never seen it before. Set in a futuristic dystopia, the digital world has come to a grinding halt in this thrilling tale of treachery, deceit and ambition. Electrifying new music theatre from a cast of over 40 performers and musicians. ‘A triumph. This stimulating, challenging Macbeth thoroughly merits a visit’ (Belfast Telegraph). YMT returns to Edinburgh in association with the Lyric Theatre Belfast.

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