Review: Priory steps up a gear in striking and thrilling Macbeth on Kenilworth stage

Charles Essex reviews Macbeth at the Priory Theatre, Kenilworth

‘The director got the best out of the cast’: Macbeth at the Priory Theatre
‘The director got the best out of the cast’: Macbeth at the Priory Theatre

Putting on Macbeth was quite a departure for The Priory from the more usual fare of murder mysteries and comedies.

Stuart Lawson, the director, got the best out of this large cast who gave an excellent all round performance. Macbeth feels like quite a wordy play spread over five acts, in two halves, but the cast delivered their lines fluently.

The lead actors, Dan Gough (Macbeth) and Katie-Anne Ray (Lady Macbeth), had excellent chemistry and a very believable relationship. Despite being a fierce and bold warrior, Macbeth is weak under the influence of the scheming ambition of Lady Macbeth. Dan and Katie-Anne conveyed the connection that became increasingly toxic and ultimately led to their mutual destruction.

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    Adam Schumacher set the tone with his excellent delivery as the captain in the first act and all the leading characters were well rehearsed. Whenever Dan was on stage he delivered a stellar performance, from the anguish after he had murdered King Duncan to the dinner scene with the appearance of Banquo’s ghost. Katie-Anne matched him scene for scene when they were on stage together or had soliloquies as she initially revealed the price she was willing to pay to achieve her ambition or with the subconscious guilt when walking and talking in her sleep.

    The almost non-existent props and bare stage worked really well allowing the actors plenty of space to move freely and expressively. The backlighting with single colours was very successful and allowed actors to appear in silhouette, such as the appearance of the three witches (Ruth Jones, Caroline McCluskey and Kate Gillan), effectively enhanced by flashes to convey lightening. The cauldron scene was very powerful, more so with the apparitions shown as back projections.

    The Priory has really stepped up a gear with this production of Macbeth and deserves full houses.

    Macbeth runs until July 30. Call 0333 666 3366 to book.