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Review of Macbeth Gone Mental at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

I have followed Tap the Table on both Twitter and Facebook for a couple of years, however Macbeth Gone Mental is actually the first time I have seen one of their productions. Three of the cast members were also new to me, however Ashlee Sopher; who as well as other roles plays lead Macbeth; I did happen to see in his final year of the BA Actors University of Northampton course, with the final time being the Flash Festival.

I mention Flash here for two reasons, one its on again next week, please go if you can. However the more relevant reason here, is that I felt Macbeth Gone Mental very much plays out like an extended and enhanced Flash production. Many of these shows take difficult subject matters and create not only an entertaining, but also a thoughtful stimulating piece of drama.

This is Macbeth with a bizarre edge, a piece that follows the story very well despite featuring little of the bards prose, but adds many genuinely weird moments. However the title has a double meaning as while this production of Macbeth is indeed "mental" in style, there is another "mental" significance as this play is also an exploration of mental illness. It might seem a strange merger, and sometimes it is. However the stirring monologues during which each of the four performers tell important individual stories, leave the audience thinking right until the plays powerful end, where the performers literally appear to pack up their troubles.

There are many magic moments on our journey through the tale including the awesome moment of Whigfield's Saturday Night in Shakespeare and Therese Robinson successfully putting the sexy into Lady Macbeth and her letter reading as she writhes and cavorts around the stage, often leaving little to the imagination. Quite a performance.

This is where much of the strength lies in this production, the four performers. They go full throttle into the material, which can at times be lightweight and incessantly silly, but in their hands somehow it all feels very good. Completing the four cast members and as they are keen to say, are the actual members of Tap the Table Productions, Thomas Liversidge and the very Scottish Wayne Ingram. All of the cast members switch between the roles with deliberately comical clumsiness, adding a sash, a cap, a dress or a beard as required is as deep as it gets.

There are many great ideas on display including the wonderful three headed wyrd sisters, including a great little song from the witch with no body and her hunt for love. The stalking by the murderers is also a cleverly constructed moment, with the fiends hiding within the screens which form the only set that this show has. This is simple stripped back theatre, predominantly about performance.

So Macbeth Gone Mental is an entertaining piece of theatre, which for all its mad moments has a really deep thoughtful heart and is as good as it is because of the four wonderfully skilled and enthusiastic performers.

«««½


Performance reviewed: Wednesday 11th May, 2016 at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton.

Macbeth Gone Mental was performed at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton on Wednesday 11th May, 2016 only, but is currentlly touring. Details can be found at http://www.tapthetable.com/macbeth/

For full details of the Playhouse Theatre visit their website at http://www.theplayhousetheatre.net/

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