Brighton FringeDramaReviewSouth East


Created by actors: Heidi Niemi and Gus Kennedy Jacob

Director: Anu Niemi

Reviewer: Sophie Huggins

Despite belonging to a different Shakespeare title, the phrase “though she be but little, she is fierce” rings true in this hilarious one-woman interpretation of the famous Macbeth tale. Described as high on energy, low on iambic pentameter, this feisty feminist rendition delivers just that, serving quirky modern humour with sprinklings of classic Shakespeare.

The Lumo Company’s concept hangs together (in front of a theatrical red curtain) credibly as the objectives are clear; a woman on a mission to gain all the plays parts correlating with Macbeth’s relentless charge for ultimate power. Macbeth is a Scottish soldier who, after being informed by three witches of his royal fate, stops at nothing to ensure his destiny comes true, all with the forceful guidance of his poisonous wife, Lady Macbeth. Heidi Niemi, as all of the parts, challenges the audience in her introduction on the premise – “Why not? You think I can’t do it?” Anyone who doubts the spirited performer is quickly proven wrong by her energetic expressions and charming, grounded demeanour. With such recognised training as Commedia School, East 15 and the school of the legendary Phillippe Gaulier, it is clear Niemi has gained much in the form of exquisite comic exaggeration as each character has a humorous, inventive attribute that enables clarified storytelling. Despite not always being audible or coherent, and the Shakespeare sometimes being thrown away, Niemi is forgiven as her focus and commitment to each part is admirable and highly amusing to watch.

Accompanying her on this quest and pitiably described as ‘sound dude/ prop guy/ musician/ prompter’ is Gus Kennedy Jacob, making expert ramshackle sound effects, delightfully sounding a booming drum and comically keeping the stage alive in Niemi’s absence – during every charismatic quick-change. The costumes again, designed by Moi Tran, clearly communicate each character but also serve as points of joy – who knew a black leather jacket could be so entertaining? Kennedy also wittily inhabits the character of Macduff which slightly robs the audience of a climactic one person fight scene, but it is so expertly crafted as a clown act behind the red curtain, it is justly excused.

With satirical music, lighting and many fumbling crashes behind the stage, the real pleasure in this production is the play within a play aspect. It utilises the audience’s knowledge of Macbeth and mocks it; a beautiful game for us all to enjoy inclusive of enchanting moments of audience participation. There is a transportation to every bizarre nook and cranny in the story of Macbeth – complete with a karaoke compilation from King Duncan – but it is such a fluid and believable ride that there is never a question of truth, only of wanting more.

Despite an occasional dip in pace, this short take on the famous classic is distinctive, entertaining and energetically offers something new to the world that every other Macbeth hasn’t already said. It is impressively entertaining, excellently directed (by Anu Niemi) and who knows, perhaps A Midsummer Nights Dream, to which the phrase belongs, will be the company’s next venture as their work is of an original quality, highly recommendable and a company to watch for what they do next.

Reviewed on 30 May 2017  |  @brightonfringe

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The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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