Review: Macbeth, Perth Theatre (Sunday Herald)




Perth Theatre

Until October 5;

Transferring to Tron Theatre, Glasgow

October 8-19


Reviewed by Mark Brown


Perth Theatre artistic director Rachel  O’Riordan promised us a young Lady Macbeth and, in Welsh actress Leila Crerar, she has found an excellent one. Crerar pings onto designer Kenny Miller’s wonderfully bleak, abstractedly modern set (all black brick and candlelight, like a dodgy metropolitan backstreet) with the abandon of an end-of-term schoolgirl.

Leila Crerar as Lady Macbeth

Whether she is revelling in the magnetic sexual power she exercises over her older husband or contemplating the prospect of becoming Queen, Crerar’s Lady M is possessed of a single transferable excitement. This refreshingly original image of youthful, aristocratic precocity becomes all the more compelling in the moment when she returns – transformed and palpably on the cusp of psychological breakdown – from her encounter with murder.

For his part, Keith Fleming’s Macbeth eschews both the ultra-macho swagger and the rapid, violent insanity which sometimes afflict interpretations of the role. Here, instead, is a more modern regicide, thoughtful and reasoning. His observable moral flip-flopping in the great soliloquy, “If it were done when ’tis done”, is turned to murderous intent by his tangible sexual desire for his insistent, young wife.

Crerar and Fleming are supported by a generally strong cast which includes effectively masculinised witches and Sean Scanlan on fine form as both King Duncan and the Porter.

Impressive though it is, the production does have its weaknesses. The decision to use children mouthing recorded lines to represent the apparitions comes a cropper. Andrew Rothney’s bold, on-stage costume changes, as he transforms directly from the character of Macbeth’s doctor in one scene to Menteith (one of the noblemen set on Macbeth’s destruction) in the next, is a distracting attempt at making a virtue out of multi-casting necessity.

All in all, however, this is Macbeth more clever, inventive and absorbing than we usually see, and another triumph for Perth Theatre under O’Riordan.

This review was originally published in the Sunday Herald on September 22, 2013

© Mark Brown


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