Review: Macbeth, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Ambassadors Theatre

“If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly”

There’s something a little ironic about NYT’s assurance that this is the “only West End showing of Macbeth this autumn” when I will have seen 3 productions of the Scottish play this month. Sure, the muddy paths of Clapham Common and the dusty hall of the London Welsh Centre might fall a little short of the shabby chic of the Ambassadors Theatre but it is a clear indication of the enduring popularity of this programming choice which forms one third of a rep season which also includes Private Peaceful and a modern telling of Dorian Gray in Selfie.

And sure enough, Ed Hughes’ concise adaptation offers up the best of the bunch for the season, the bold thematic vision working well and releasing the play from any dusty RP connotations. From the outset as Grace Chilton borrows the spirit of Alan Cumming’s iconic Emcee to the haunting presence of Lady Macbeth’s ghost during a key moment, Hughes’ liberating attitude (he also directs) makes this a rapid-fire success which pays its own tribute to the WWI anniversary as well as crackling with youthful energy. Continue reading “Review: Macbeth, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Ambassadors Theatre”

Review: Selfie, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Ambassadors Theatre

“Ugliness is unfortunate. Beauty is unforgivable”

Written and devised by Brad Birch along with the company of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain’s rep season (this is the second year they’ve ventured into the West End with a triple bill), Selfie is Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray reimagined for the iPad generation. Transplanted from the whirl of Victorian bohemia to the vacuous poseurs of Hoxton’s hipsters, the portrait of this Dorian (here a woman) is captured digitally but in other respects, largely follows the downwards spiral of Wilde’s original.

It is grindingly hard to care about Mountford, Shenton is grim and gruelling, Gardner has mediocre material – it is fair to say that Selfie didn’t really click with the critics but in all honesty, I couldn’t see quite what provoked such particular ire. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a fair deal that doesn’t work – especially in relation to the source material – but that this company (made up of 18 to 25 year olds) is being empowered to devise theatre for West End audiences feels like something to be celebrated and if they’re not allowed to take risks now, then when? Continue reading “Review: Selfie, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Ambassadors Theatre”