Review: Macbeth, RIFT at Balfron Tower

“Macbeth does murder sleep”

Immersive schimmersive. In the creation of ever-more inventive ways of approaching familiar stories, theatre companies are consistently pushing the boundaries of what makes a theatrical experience and the set-up for RIFT’s 12-hour Macbeth complete with sleepover is certainly eye-catching. The reality though is quite something else – if sharing a dorm with strangers doesn’t appeal, you can pretty much leave at 1am without missing too much, and the practicalities of dividing the audience into three small groups each with their own Macbeth and Lady M stultifies the pace rather than invigorating the show. 

There’s cleverness to be sure, moments where the intimacy really sparks something thrilling whether in the subterranean meeting with the witches, guns being brandished in our faces, being an actual part of the feast that Banquo interrupts so spookily. But equally there’s a hella lot of waiting around, film work that falls flat, too much visible logistics work that saps the theatricality of the experience and snaps us out of the mindset that is needed to make such an endurance test fly. I’d say this production was a good idea but largely an unfeasible one, keeping you up for the wrong reasons. 

Running time: 12 hours (or 5 hours if you’re not up for the sleepover)
Booking until 16th August

Review: Blue Sky, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs

“Oh God! Now’s everyone’s got their own blog…”

Ray enjoys plane-spotting. Since his wife died and his teenage daughter is growing up far too quickly for his liking, it has provided him with a much-needed reason to get out of the house and into the Shropshire countryside. But it is early 2003, Iraq is about to be invaded and there’s a strange buzz of activity around their little airfield. When childhood friend and freelance journalist Jane waltzes back into his life, trying to follow up a lead on a story about a missing Pakistani man last seen being forced onto a US plane, neither of them are prepared for just how far this story will reach.

Blue Sky is a pointedly political new play by Clare Bayley for the Pentabus Theatre company and in the intimate theatre downstairs at the Hampstead, director Elizabeth Freestone makes inventive use of the room with some excellent creative collaborations. Staged in traverse, Naomi Dawson’s deceptively simple design segments the open space, Johanna Town’s runway-inspired lighting is cleverly used as Adrienne Quartly’s sound design expands the horizons of the production into the big bad world being investigated. Continue reading “Review: Blue Sky, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs”