Clemmie Sveaas, Jessie Oshodi and Ana Beatriz Meireles as the Witches in Macbeth at the Young Vic, London. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

Macbeth - Review by Jason Battersby


**** (4 Stars)

Birmingham Rep, 26 January 2016

In an interesting and original depiction of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lucy Guerin and Carrie Cracknell combine both text and movement to create and dark and unnerving atmosphere.

This is further achieved by a simple yet effective set design showing severe perspective and creating the sense of claustrophobia and confinement amongst the audience. The lighting adds to this intensity often using blackouts to spark the audience’s imagination during scenes of action and violence and using bright lights in order to create a supernatural atmosphere during sequences using the witches. Creepy and unnatural movements were often used in scenes of confusion or in order to represent the presence of the witches though the dancing was sometimes a little excessive and sometimes made the play feel static.

John Heffernan made for a very believable Macbeth with clear intent to all his words. I also enjoyed how he took the role in a new and creative direction showing a balance between justice and evil in Macbeth’s actions. Lady Macbeth was played by Anna Maxwell Martin who I felt work well alongside John Heffernan in order to portray an loving yet twisted relationship between the two characters. Nicholas Burns showed an interesting portrayal of a harsh Duncan with no morals or redeeming features, however as Macduff, though the majority of the part was played and delivered well, his reaction to the death of his children and wife lacked emotion. This was made up for by the role of Lady Macduff played by Cassie Layton making the scene of her death tragic and moving for the audience.

The play was of a high quality, keeping the audience’s attention throughout and adding many twists to the well-known tale. I enjoyed it as I found it entertaining and thought provoking and would recommend it to anyone who may want to watch it!

Macbeth is a Young Vic Production, touring to Birmingham Rep and HOME Manchester. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Also marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death at The REP is King Lear (19 to 28 May) staring acclaimed stage and screen actor Don Warrington in a co-production with Talawa Theatre and the Royal Exchange Manchester, plus experimental theatre company, Filter, who bring their radically-cut, fast-paced version of Shakespeare’s much-loved comedy Twelfth Night (12 to 16 April).

Rachel Bird - Youth Music Theatre UK - YMT Alumni

An interview with Rachel Bird


Currently training at Guildford School of Acting, YMT Alumni Rachel Bird chats about her YMT experience.

I've been with YMT since 2005 starting with a Skills Course and then went on to do Last Tango (2006), Great Expectations (2007), Endangered (2008) and then finally Macbeth in (2012) - my last one before I became too old! Each one has been as great as the last if not better each year.

Youth Music Theatre UK - Rachel Bird - YMT Alumni

(Rachel as Hecate in Macbeth, 2012)

Do you still keep in contact with any YMTers?

Yes I still talk to a number of people from Macbeth, Endangered and Great Expectations. But also the creative teams - namely, Stuart Harvey, Rachel Birch-Lawson, Peta Lily, Gerry Flanagan and Annemarie Lewis Thomas.

Why should people get involved with YMT?

It's a company that allows you to be who you are, to be creative by inputting to the project. You can share your own talents and be inspired by others in a comfortable, supportive environment.

What would your dream role be?

My dream role right now would be Molly in Ghost. But when I'm old would be Miss Hannigan in Annie.

Favourite Shows?

Ghost, Dogfight, In the Heights, Loserville, Bring it On: the musical, Next to Normal, Showboat, Carousel, Guys and Dolls, Annie Get Your Gun. And so many more...

Tips for YMT Auditions:

Be yourself. That's who they want to see. Try not to present them and idea of what you think the panel want. They want to see your talents and what you can individually do. Also enjoy it. It's workshop based for a reason. So that you can relax and have fun.

What/who should young people research in the arts?

National Theatre Connections plays (it's always young people performing them), Danielle Tarento (a producer of lots of new musicals), Katie Lipson (Aria Entertainment, again lots of new musicals), Benjamin Newsome (Casting Director). Also read the West End Producer's book; it's very good and very funny. If you are someone that is wanting to go and train in Musical Theatre, when you go to see a show always look in the programme at where they have trained because that can always help you with your choice of schools. Look at who went there and what they are doing now.

Favourite food?

Roast Dinner. Preferably Toby Carvery all you can eat.

Ideal holiday?

Somewhere hot with sand and sea. Maybe Bora-Bora but I do love Cyprus.

THE most important question: Scone (as in stone) or Scone (as in gone)?

Scone (gone) for one, scone (stone) for more then one!


West Side Story

Musical Adaptations of the Bard: Triumph And Tragedy!


This July the thumping sound of Drum ‘n’ Bass cascades down the corridors of Dunsinane. An ominous beat reverberates through the dank fog of YMT's dystopian reimagining of Shakespeare's perennial horror story Macbeth. The talented YMT cast bring a new twisted take on the things that could conceivably go bump in the night.

As the host of ghosts, witches, cybergoths and neon-clad ravers waltz towards us through the apocalyptic murk this summer, YMT takes a retrospective on past attempts to set The Bard to music. The triumphs and the tragedies!

West Side Story (Romeo & Juliet)

Director Jerome Robbins transported Shakespeare’s iconic romance, Romeo and Juliet, to the boroughs of 1960s New York, where the streetlight crossed lovers were reborn. Replacing swords with scissor kicks and punches with pliés this vibrant adaptation remains exhilarating and poignant today.

Fun Fact: In the film adaptation of the musical Elvis Presley was approached to play the lead role of Tony, but Col. Tom Parker turned the studio down. If Elvis had done the movie, he'd have ended up playing opposite real-life ex-girlfriend Natalie Wood.


The Lion King (Hamlet)

If Hamlet were equipped with claws and a skull-crushing jaw strength, would he have been less indecisive about killing (or even eating) his traitorous uncle? According to The Lion King: apparently not.

Disney’s winning formula:
• Substitute the poison with a stampede of wildebeest.
• Switch the ghost with a talkative cumulous cloud.
• Finally provide the play’s royal family with some extra fur, a tail and some pleasant baritones.

Fun Fact: A wildlife expert brought a lion, a baboon and some vultures to the film studio so the animators could study certain behaviours. For example, in the movie, Rafiki carries a staff, so the animators had the real baboon carry a long stick around so they could sketch him in different poses.


Kiss Me Kate (The Taming of the Shrew)


Kiss Me Kate tells the story of a theatre troupe’s haphazard attempt to stage a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. As life begins to imitate art the ensemble unravels into a farcical explosion of metathetrical romance and murderous mobsters.

Near the dénouement the theatrical thugs who endanger the production find themselves trapped onstage. With nowhere to run they are forced to improvise a tribute to Shakespeare in which they explain that understanding The Bard is the key to romance, "Brush Up Your Shakespeare".

Fun Fact: The 1953 screenplay adaptation of the musical was originally filmed in 3D, which is why the actors often throw things (including themselves) at the audience.


It seems YMT’s Macbeth is in fine company! If you think The Bard could use a dose of dance or a medicinal jab of music then come join us at The Lyric Theatre Belfast this July!

Performance Dates:
Wednesday 23 July 2014 - 7:30pm to Tuesday 26 August 2014 - 7:30pm

Click Here To Book Tickets!


BONUS: Not a musical but 10 Things I Hate About You, the high school bound adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, is home to a short light-footed performance definitely worth sharing