26 Jan




Wiltons is a lovely old theatre that is always a pleasure to visit. Just a quick friendly warning, it is an old building and the heating is not as good as it would be in a more modern environment, so dress up warm in these cold Winter days. 

“Macbeth” has arrived here from the Watermill Ensemble, well known for its innovative and popular actor/musician productions and this is certainly no exception to that rule. There are guitars on and off stage and a set of drums to accompany most of the scenes. Some of the musicians actually take part in ensemble numbers.  

It is a bit of a surprise to find none of the music is of Macbeth’s time or even Shakespeare’s.   ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ sung by King Duncan is a bit of a surprise and doesn’t seem to have much meaning within the context of the play. Maybe there is a connection I haven’t noticed or maybe the actor just enjoys singing it. Anyway John Cash and the Rolling Stones are featured in the musical score. 

I am sure that the production must have been excellent on its home ground, but the acoustic at Wilton’s is just not good enough for a straight play. 

The old Music Hall simply calls out for jollity. Pirates of Penzance was a delight last year and cabaret also works well, in fact all shows there need to be directed at the audience. 

Billy Postlethwaite as ‘the butcher’ Macbeth and Emma Macdonald as his ‘fiendish queen’ are fine and well projected but some of the lesser roles do not face the audience at all times and the voices just disappear into the backcloth. 

Some of the soldier costumes were really well chosen, but I would prefer to see Lady Macbeth dressed a little more formally. For some reason mini-skirts look out of place in tragedy and the dressing gown in the sleepwalking scene was well above the knee. This may be fuddy duddy talking, but it was unappealing. 

Sadly during the first act of Macbeth on the Press Night, the actress playing Lady Macduff damaged her knee and was unable to continue. Luckily, in the audience was Emma Barclay, an actress who had recently played the role and she remembered it well. She was given a script but she worked without it. Well done Emma. This was a great piece of drama, but it didn’t do the play any favours, adding an extra hour to the running time. Just bad Scottish play luck. – An hour extra in the cold was not conducive to happiness  

I don’t think Macbeth really works at Wiltons – no matter how talented the performers or the direction. It is a gloomy setting of a dark story and I think the old theatre needs happiness and love. 

Next week the same company is to play ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and I am sure lovers and fairies will brighten up the place bringing comedy and colour which is what this beautiful little theatre needs. 

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