Garrick Theatre (venue)
23 November 2018 (released)
27 November 2018
The members of the National Youth Theatre REP company look completely at home on the stage of the Garrick Theatre. This fearless production of Macbeth is the third in their ‘west end season’ and bursts with ambition. Formed in 1956 for young people between the ages of 14 and 25, there’s a reason this organisation has such a good reputation, nurturing the next generation of directors, actors and writers from across the UK.
Director, Natasha Nixon’s production, using an abridged and adapted text by Moira Buffini, is fresh and pacey with a contemporary visual feel. The young cast bring dynamic relationships and driving ambition to the stage, with engaging use of music and lights to keep the vibrant, party atmosphere moving. Whilst the dark depths of Shakespeare’s tragedy may not be entirely plumbed the text is spoken with clarity and precision across the board and the story is told with conviction.
Nixon’s decision to go for gender fluid casting allows for new elements to be explored such as female warriors, male witches and a gay marriage between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (both women). There are no weak links here and I don’t doubt we’ll be seeing some of these faces again; Marilyn Nnadebe as Duncan had particularly strong presence as a female leader and the relationship between Isabel Adomakoh Young as Lady Macbeth and Olivia Dowd’s Macbeth made the bold casting seem entirely natural.
Far from being gimmicky, it feels quite appropriate that a young cast should be testing the possibilities of Shakespeare’s most accessible tragedy at a time when professional theatre is doing the same.