Slick, accessible and boisterous adaptation of classic tragedy
This article is from 2010.
There are plenty of reasons why Macbeth is not suitable for kids: there’s the cold-blooded murder, the unmitigated violence, not to mention the difficult language. Australian company Bell Shakespeare, however, are experts in these things, and what they and Aussie kids’ author Andy Griffiths have correctly identified is that this is also a play full of things kids know and love: ugly witches, kings in castles, magical happenings, marshmallows and bare bums. OK, so those last two are possibly unique to this particular version, but they fit right in, honestly.
This slick adaptation is gently educational without ever seeming condescending or pushy. The idea is that three 12-year-olds drink a magic potion they’ve prepared while acting out the witches’ scene from Macbeth in class, and find themselves in the middle of ancient Scotland, inhabiting the roles of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Banquo. The three then live out the story, taking the audience with them as they work out what on earth’s going on in this strange world of men in skirts, invisible ponies and militant garden gnomes.
More of Shakespeare’s words creep in as the play goes on, but there’s always enough context or explanation to make it accessible to all. With bold and colourful costumes, wobbly shadow cut-out backdrops, lively, creative use of props and a fair few modern references dropped in, Just Macbeth is engaging throughout its 90 minutes. While the fart-joke quota may be high, the humour does get more sophisticated than that, and anyone with a keen sense of the absurd – whatever their age – will find plenty to enjoy here.
Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 29 Aug (not 17), 11.45am, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50).