'Macbeth' – Little Angel Theatre
Peter Glanville's last production as director of the Little Angel Theatre is an adaptation of ‘Macbeth’ for adults, in which the visual action marvellously carries the weight of the text. Together with superb set, sound and lighting design, the mis-en-scene is cared for to the last detail, creating a magical, otherworldly and threatening atmosphere that perfectly captures the essence of Shakespeare’s tragedy.
I had my doubts whether portraying the characters as birds would work, concerned it could make Macbeth into “Macbird”. However, the choice reinforces the archetypal qualities in the characters and exposes more clearly the weaknesses and corruptness of the human soul. This is made possible by beautiful puppets designed by Lyndie Wright, and brought to life by puppeteers Claire Harvey, Lori Hopkins and Lowri James. The soundtrack includes the pre-recorded text read by a wonderful cast, with Nathaniel Parker as Macbeth and a sensational Helen McCrory as Lady Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth has an extraordinary and powerful stage presence, achieved through how expressively her actions respond to the lines, the accuracy of the timings in the movement and pauses, and the gestures of her hand and head. The same applies to all the characters to various degrees. There are many emotionally intense moments – after Macbeth has killed King Duncan, the audience is able to feel the guilt that tortures the mind of the traitor simply through the breathing of the puppet and the agitation in its chest.
Even though the puppetry was not technically consistent the night I saw the production, it is still remarkable work coming from the hands of the three young puppeteers. They humbly animate the characters from the shadows, echoing the three Fates who control the invisible threads of destiny at work in the play.
Directed by Peter Glanville
Music composed by James Hesford
Puppets designed by Lyndie Wright
Set design by Peter O’Rourke
Costumes by Keith Frederick
Lighting design by David Duffy