The 3rd year students of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School delivered a commendable performance of Macbeth in Weston Studio of the Old Vic. Whilst clearly not in the league of a professional performance it was nevertheless a spirited interpretation of one of the Bard’s best known tragedies. And a great opportunity for many youngsters who are studying this for English exams, to see the action ‘live’.
Somewhat constrained by the configuration of the Weston Studio, some of the directorial choices seemed not to take account of the audience; substantial portions of the on-stage action were blocked from view as cast members waited to access the stage. And some rather blocky staging gave the performance an amateur feel which belied some of the better performances. Nevertheless, some clever devices (look out for the witch’s cauldron) and some interesting lighting and choreography certainly helped create an atmospheric evening.
As Macbeth himself, Joe Usher began well but seemed to flounder as the play progressed; a somewhat monotonous delivery failed to show the tyrannous General or paranoid King for which this character is best known. And as Lady Macbeth, Camilla Aiko was strangely fey and lacking in potency; whether this was her own interpretation or on direction, we saw little of the strong (oft cited ‘evil’) ambitious character that we expect. Her portrayal was not helped by a constant affectation of grabbing the skirt of her costumes in both hands for every movement (perhaps they were too long and she feared tripping up) but it became an annoyance in each scene.
As Banquo, Bill Caple gave a strong performance, demonstrating the true bravery of the character. And Joshua Hurley as Macduff gave a rounded and believable interpretation, which was enjoyable to watch, a well-rounded characterisation.
Great credit to Joe Edgar as Porter (the ‘clown’) in this production who had written his own adaptations to his scene to great comic effect. And note to Phoebe Cook in her multiple roles, although brief and varied, each executed with enthusiasm and accuracy – a very watchable young performer. As were Evie Hargreaves (1st Witch) and Carlie Diamond (3rd Witch/Fleance/Macduff’s son).
Certainly one for the students who are studying the play and for anyone who wants to support these budding young actors.