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Macbeth

★★★★★ Remote Goat, Victoria Claringbold

A remarkably high-octane Macbeth graces the new town theatre in Edinburgh this month. Icarus Theatre Collective ensures that their shortened version of Macbeth is as action packed as it is exhilarating to watch. With sword, axe, spear and bare fist fighting it is an impressively energetic and dynamic production condensed into eighty minutes.

With dry ice, a red cloth that falls down one side of the stage and what looks like steel grey girders dissecting the backdrop the scene is set. The witches hooded and cloaked in brown are suitably creepy, as they croak, bend and twist around the stage.

The staging is effective with different levels used throughout. Mayou Trikerioti’s set design includes red lights that splinter the girders at different points in the play underlining the plot and bringing out the themes of desire, death and destruction.

The actor’s reactions were fantastic, notably when Banquo (Matthew Bloxham) gives Macbeth (a booming Joel Gorf) a knowing look in one early scene. Sophie Brooke as Lady Macbeth brought a wonderfully unhinged quality to the play; with wide eyed depravity she provokes Macbeth into his eventual undoing.

Joel Gorf’s testosterone-fueled Macbeth is vicious and ambitious as he powers through the famous dagger speech. This is later contrasted wonderfully by the frenzied fear he shows on seeing the ghost of Banquo.

The doubling up of actors and characters makes for a lot of quick changes through the play but the different characterisations are expertly realised. This is evident in the ease with which Costa Chard slips from Lenox to Fleance to Macduff. His anguish (as Macduff) at losing his beloved family is palpable and painful to watch as he kneels cowering on the ground.

The supporting cast were compelling and made this concentrated version of Macbeth a dazzling, potent production. This Macbeth is a dusky affair with some striking performances, don’t miss it.

★★★★★ The Carrick Biz, David Kerr

Shakespeare’s plays are often regarded as worthy but boring. That’s what comes of reading them in school rather than watching them performed. Given the right treatment, Hamlet, Julius Caeser and Macbeth can be as gripping as any Hollywood blockbuster.

This production fits the bill perfectly. The high-octane opening battle sets the scene for this dark tale on intrigue and violence. Despite the limitations of a small cast of seven, the cast have the choreography so perfect that they can switch roles in seconds with quick alterations of costume. In a red dress, Sophie Brooke is Lady Macbeth; with a cloak over her head she becomes one of the Three Witches.  With other variations of her costume she becomes a Murderer or Rosse. The action is fast-moving and unrelenting, so pay attention.

Five Stars alone are due to the designers of the simple set and the expressive mood-setting lighting and sound. You’ll find out what a bane-moon looks like.

★★★★½ The Public Reviews, Alice Longhurst

With this year’s Fringe featuring no less than eight versions of the Scottish play I approached this show with some trepidation. What an earth might they do to stand out? What clever setting, innovative special effects, or contemporary influences might they abuse in the name of art?

As it turned out my fears were unfounded. Director Max Lewendel has chosen accuracy over originality, which actually makes the production quite unusual in its own right, to create an almost perfectly accurate reproduction of the text, excepting a few omissions to meet the eighty minute running length.

Reductions are also made to the cast, and sadly this is where things unravel a little. With just seven actors frequent character doubling is required, and for those less familiar with the plot the lack of clear distinction between roles may well quickly become confusing. This aside, there are good performances, particularly from the powerful lead Joel Gorf and Sophie Brooke’s wild-eyed Lady Macbeth, who comes across as wonderfully hysterical, although perhaps a little lacking in malevolence. Zachary Holton, a great bear of a man, is perfectly cast as an amiable old Duncan. Overall the acting is strong, if a little wooden, and at any rate the stiffness is dispelled in the convincingly choreographed battle scenes.

Costumes channel the historical background to the tale, with medieval cloaks, great big spears and slightly comical oversized furry boots. Infernal glowing red cuts slashed into the upright blocks which form the backdrop combine with the dim lighting and bright full moon to create a darkly atmospheric frame for the bloody tale.

In all, this production is unusual at a Fringe full of crazy contemporary interpretations of the classics, and as a traditional telling it is sure to please many purists. For the more open minded, there’s nothing new or challenging here, but it is slick and well performed show.

★★★★☆ ThreeWeeks, Danielle Grogan

Passion. Corruption. Revenge. And some rather odd set design. These are ingredients that make this production of ‘Macbeth’ both memorable and different. Sophie Brookes’ Lady Macbeth is a guileful and carnal creature, accentuating her role as Macbeth’s manipulator and lover and as a result, the on-stage chemistry between Brookes and Joel Gorf is electrifying, pre-empting the toxic end to the relationship. The witches remain ever-present on-stage, which is effective in illustrating their key role in the tragedy. My only criticism is the moon, oddly emblazoned at various times with birds and lightning bolts – an attempt at symbolism which left me confused; particularly when it became the eye of Sauron and spoke to Macbeth in Act 4…

Former Icarus Productions

Journey’s End

“A powerful and poignant production.”

Steve Burbridge, The Public Reviews

Othello

“A beautiful version of Shakespeare’s Othello”

“A dramatic and spectacular show”

Sonia Kapur, The Maidenhead Advertiser

“Unlike the company’s namesake, this show was no failure…If this is what comes from flying too close to the sun, then long may they continue.”

Neil McEwan, The Scotsman

“Truly extraordinary”
“The Icarus Theatre Collective is so professional that it must take its place in the very highest echelons.”

Alex Thornton

Vincent in Brixton

“This emotional and passionate work was truly a delight”

Martyn Jex, Maidenhead Advertiser

“A fantastic theatrical experience.”

Dennis Martin, Surrey and Hants

The Lesson

“It is impossible not to enjoy Icarus Theatre Collective’s production.”

Aleks Sierz, The Stage

Albert’s Boy

“Incredibly skilful and moving.”

Joanna Bacon, Rogues and Vagabonds

Coyote Ugly

“A beautifully restrained, delicately erotic performance.”

John Thaxter, What’s On

“This sexy, steamy drama really hits home, especially after delivering the scorpion sting in its tail.”

Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

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