Shakespeare for Kids’ “McBeth” is a fantastic musical adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.
It is very accessible to both an adults and children audience without loosing any of the suspense, the humour (in particular with the hilarious Porter’s interlude), and the main dramatic elements of the story: the murders and conspiracies, the romance and passion, the grief, the power of madness and the madness of power. This is brought to us in the context of Scotland and England history in a clear manner.
The direction is very dynamic, as there is always something happening on stage and the choreography is very detailed. In particular, the dancing of the three witches around the smoking cauldron is enthralling and beautiful, while the banquet scene is joyful and inviting, and the battle scenes violent and captivating.
The show is a genuine visual treat. The décor, dark and gothic, makes a very clever use of film footages in its background. This tells us about the location of the scenes and adapts the variety of the scenes in the play: we find ourselves in turn inside the intimacy of a castle or a church lit with candles, outside in the immensity of the forest or on a battlefield. The lightning effects add to an already very atmospheric play, changing the mood in each scene, and the focus on different parts of the stage.
Live music gives more tension to the play, as does a wealth of sound effects: wind, singing birds, bell chimes, owl hooting, rain and thunder, galloping horses, crows’ craw.
The acting and singing is powerful with all performers giving their all. Noel Andrew Harron, in particular, in the title role, is brilliant at portraying the dramatic shift of his character from palpable guilt and sense of isolation to sheer madness and cruelty. The ambiguity of the witches between real and whimsical creatures is perfectly rendered too, and their curse acts as an interesting metaphor for bad influence, as does the devilish aspect of Lady McBeth. McBeth’s hallucinations are not only haunting, but also tell us about bad conscious in the face of wrong doing, which is a good moral lesson for a younger audience. Overall, the music-hall is a beautiful birdsong about the pointlessness of war and the splendour of peace.