Directed by Natasha Nixon, Macbeth is the latest production by the National Youth Theatre REP Company, and the final in its 2018 season (the two previous productions being Consensual and Victoria’s Knickers). Abridged by Moira Buffini, of wonder.land fame, Nixon’s production aims to be seen simultaneously as both a revival and a premiere. It’s clear from the beginning that the play is going to delight the audience in ways we’ve not experienced before.
Famously, the Shakespearean tragedy starts with three witches discussing “when shall we three meet again?” The trio, played by Aiden Cheng, Simran Hunjun and Jeffrey Sangalang, serve as not-so friendly yet familiar faces, popping up at various points in the play, often being the cause of laughter. Cheng’s energy and commitment in particular has to be commended.
The production is gender fluid with many of the traditionally male roles being played by women, most notably Macbeth (Olivia Dowd) and Duncan (Marilyn Nnadebe). The casting of these roles is excellent. Dowd is a perfect fit for the title role, commanding the stage and making Macbeth her own. Supporting her as Lady Macbeth is Isabel Adomakoh Young. She gives a mightily strong performance and infuses Lady Macbeth, often seen as just an ‘evil woman’, with humanity. The standard of performance is so high in Macbeth it is hard to pin down stand-out cast members.
Seemingly being aware of both each other and the play as a whole, the actors seem incredibly at ease with the production. This is, of course, partly due to the direction of Nixon, but also due to the nature of repertory company training, something which is unfortunately not as common as it once was. Having been working together since May of this year, the actors will naturally have already been pretty comfortable with one another before they even set foot into the rehearsal room for Macbeth.
Brimming with the future stars of theatre, the NYT REP Company’s Macbeth shows how modern day Shakespeare can be both innovative, relevant and tragically delightful. Shakespearean tragedies are not often a joy to watch, but Nixon’s certainly was due to the energy and enthusiasm demonstrated by the actors. I look forward to seeing more from each member of the cast.
Macbeth is playing Garrick Theatre until December 7. For more information and tickets, click here.