Is This a Dagger? The Story of Macbeth (4 stars)

Is This a Dagger? The Story of Macbeth

A new and accessible Scottish Play for younger audiences by storyteller Andy Cannon

Storyteller, performer and ex-artistic director of Scotland's acclaimed children's theatre company Wee Stories, Andy Cannon has hit upon a perfectly realised piece of entertaining and informative theatre for children here, in association with Red Bridge Arts. Performed on the Royal Mile in the Scottish Storytelling Centre, it's hard to imagine Is This a Dagger? The Story of Macbeth finding a more appropriate setting or context in which to be enjoyed.

This re-telling of Shakespeare's Scottish Play in simple, contemporary language is suitable not just for younger audiences, but for anyone who may not feel comfortable contending with the original text.

As ever, Cannon is a dependably reassuring performer who keeps a tight hold on every beat of the tale, giving the story more of the flow of a contemporary film. It's an exciting and not disrespectful treatment, given the show's intended audience. That he performs the story wearing a kilt may not be unexpected, but the manner in which he makes so much out of so little certainly is. Props are very limited, and thoughtfully effective: there's the folded paper crown of King Duncan made from a map, for example, and different pairs of sunglasses represent each of the witches.

Long after he's established our confidence, Cannon breaks off from the expressive and involving re-enactment to point out that the tale is in fact a tragedy and not a comedy. Yet the infectious, easy-going humour that he brings to the famous tragedy papers over the more gruesome events without diminishing them. And even if you know Macbeth well already, look out for the intriguing short epilogue about the origins of the play and its characters.

Scottish Storytelling Centre, until 20 Aug (not 17), 3pm, £9 (£7; £28 family).

Is This a Dagger? The Story of Macbeth

  • 4 stars

The real King Macbeth wasn't all about blood, witches and multiple homicide; sometimes he and his Lady liked nothing better than to snuggle up with a pot of Earl Grey and some chocolate Marylands. Well, perhaps not, but this take on the true story of Macbeth will enchant kids and maybe surprise their parents. For ages 8+;…

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