MacDeth – Kings Head Theatre, London

Writer and Director: Ryan J W Smith
Reviewer: Tom Finch


Entering the small auditorium of the Kings Head and being met by a rabble of camp characters including a bearded drag queen with a chocolate filled cauldron and a somewhat queer King it’s clear that sitting quietly in the dark is not an option for this audience.

There’s a real sense of fun and mischievous at the start of this production. A member of the audience is informed he will be teching and,of course, does a terrible job. Two more poor chaps are dragged up to be witches.

It’s a shame that after around 10 minutes in the fun begins to dip and the evening starts dragging. Many of the gags are repeated far beyond the point of hilarity; there’s only so many time an audience can laugh at a missed sound cue.

Ryan J W Smith is writer, director and lead actor all rolled into one. The script is an interesting idea. Smith has rewritten Macbeth completely in rhyming couplets and iambic pentameter and retooled it as a meta-critique on the difficulties of performing in an increasingly nonsensical plot.

The show does take on the corrupt American politics. Here Malcolm has unfathomably been replaced by a woman called Clinton. Subtle, right? It’s interesting to note that Smith’s last show had great success at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2006. Since then we’ve been treated to a whole host of brilliant satirical and spoof theatre, (The Play That Goes Wrong comes to mind) which feel far superior to this offering.

Having taken on the lead role himself, Smith is a disappointing MacDeth. A fun Sean Connery accent quickly loses its charm and he is left in a one-note performance. The star of the show is undoubtedly Howard Grater who delights in playing a vacuous, egotistical version of himself playing half a dozen or so parts. The best scene of the show comes just after having discovered the body of murdered King Duncan he gives an impassioned speech on the joys of having the stage to himself and the chance to show off his method acting. It’s hilarious. Emma Loveday is suitably terrifying as a truly insane Lady Macbeth.

There are a few laughs to be had here but leaving this production made this reviewer fancy just catching the work of the Bard himself.

Runs until 10 September 2016 | Image:Lidia Crisafulli


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