With a Fringe awash with productions of Shakespeare’s plays adapted unrecognisably to within an inch of their texts, Icarus Theatre Collective’s traditional take on Macbeth comes as something of a relief.
In this 80 minute version of the bloody play, Icarus’ only deviation from convention is to cut some of the original to make it fit the running time. Everything else is present and correct: a brooding psychotic Macbeth; his scheming Lady; and the wyrd sisters – all played by a cast of seven actors who play the principal and supporting parts between them.
Costume design takes its cues from Celtic Britain; and the simple set is evocative and striking – black monoliths on which fiery cracks appear as the play progresses, symbolising the relentless and terrible tragedy which unfolds.
Direction moves things forward at a fast pace, punctuated with some striking fight choreography which explodes onstage at the requisite points. And although performances may not set the stage alight with the same intensity, the actors are all strong in their roles, particularly Macbeth himself – a powder keg of a man on a short and constantly burning fuse.
Traditional and fast-paced, Icarus should be commended for deciding not to go for shock tactics and gimmicks in their staging of Macbeth. And although that very traditionalism means its voice may struggle to be heard amongst the rest of those on the Fringe, it is a well-staged and watchable version of the Scottish play.
Macbeth runs until 28 Aug (not 16) at New Town Theatre at 13:00. More details here.