Intense. Stunning. Mesmerising. Shocking. Brutal. These are among the adjectives applicable to Arrows and Traps’ production of Macbeth, which completed its run at the New Wimbledon Studio Theatre on 9 July. Director Ross McGregor interweaves Shakespeare’s verse and prose with eerie and evocative music, enthralling choreography and stage combat, and a relatively small cast that create a distinct and clearly demarcated group of characters. As the central sinners, David Paisley and Cornelia Baumann convey Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s inner and outer torment, their simmering sexuality twisting into self-loathing and fatalism. Other casting choices are striking, as Duncan and Banquo are recast as women, Jean Apps and Becky Black, respectively, lending these characters an unusual but compelling edge. In the roles of Lennox and the Porter, Pearce Sampson imbues each character with motivation and furor. As the three witches, Elle Banstead-Salim, Olivia Stott and Monique Williams are equal parts alluring and arresting, Banstead-Salim also heartbreaking as Lady Macduff, a role beefed up considerably in this production. This is McGregor’s great strength – daring to go way beyond what Shakespeare’s text offers, especially with the inclusion of anachronistic music and some truly surreal and disturbing sequences of dance drama. As a character, Macbeth dares to go outside his moral beliefs and is ultimately damned. As a production, this Macbeth dares to go where others might not tread, and is an unreserved triumph.
Macbeth plays for one night at the Globe Theatre on 22 July, and comes very highly recommended.