Macbeth, Shakespeare’s tale of ambition and evil

Was a sell-out triumph at Taunton’s Brewhouse.

The set and lighting design were innovative and stunning in their simplicity. Grey columns suggested a forest or with a change to the lighting, a castle, and bolts of blood-red lightning struck another post as each dirty deed was performed; 5 small plinths were the cauldron or perches for the bird-like witches; and a changing moon at times overlain with imagery or dripping deliciously with blood provided an intriguing underscoring of bloodthirsty key themes. Perhaps the most astonishing feature was that all cast members other than Macbeth successfully played up to 5 parts each, with swift and seamless transitions from one character to another by removing cloaks and simply draping them over their arm, (though you would have to be familiar with the play already to keep up with the changes and gender-blind casting.)

Rarely-seen moments of vulnerability and introspection to Macbeth were portrayed by Joel Gorf, whilst in contrast Sophie Brooke gave us hints of Lady Macbeth’s instability, power of sexuality to persuade her husband, and ‘serpent underneath’ from the outset, rather than the more familiar imperious interpretation before she descends into insanity.

Matthew Bloxham excelled in all 5 of his roles and employed comedic timing to perfection in the moment of light relief afforded by the porter, and no cast member disappointed.

I would never have imagined only 7 actors carrying off an unabridged version of this tragedy and although I have seen performances with greater dramatic tension, that was probably  afforded by the luxury of a bigger cast. However palpable thought and immense talent are evident in this slick and stylish production. ‘All hail, (this) Macbeth!’ by Icarus Theatre Collective.

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