This production is great in concept, but perhaps not so much in execution.
The gender-flip aspect is one of its strongest features, and gives a new weight and significance to proceedings that keeps it engaging at the first level. However, the majority of the execution and delivery feels, unfortunately, just a little lacklustre. Much of the cast seem more like they are reciting Shakespeare than performing it. There’s a way of performing Shakespearean dialogue that makes meaning perfectly clear to modern audiences and the barrier of language-change not an issue. This production lacks that a little, with performers often failing to attach the right nuances to certain lines that allows the audiences to understand and keep track of what’s going on.
I adore modern-dress Shakespeare, and modern music used with Shakespeare, so I’m a big fan of the musical choices and dance sequences for this piece. I’m not so big on the editing of the Macbeth text. I recognise the necessity to fit into it hour, and when Shakespeare is edited down right it can still be just as powerful, (see my review of Romeo and Juliet for when this is done just right). The editing here is a little clumsier, with some essential beats missing and inconsequential ones kept in. As such, this production lacks some of the impact Macbeth should have, and usually climatic moments fall a little flat.
It may have been where I was sitting but I also found myself somewhat putt off by the frequent clattering and audible whispering backstage, which felt a little unprofessional, and distracting to the action onstage.
Back onto a positive note, the trio playing the Weird Sisters are easily the best thing about this performance, their relentless energy, stage presence, and chemistry with each other keeps the performance lively and delivers laughs at the right moments. Macbeth’s husband (I don’t know if we’re still calling him ‘Lady Macbeth’ here) is also probably the strongest dramatic actor of the group and does a convincing and emotive job in his role.
This is by no means a bad production, and is done with enthusiasm and eagerness. It just needs a little rethink of some elements, a shake up of the cast, and a more powerful energy to its execution.