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In Review: 'Macbeth' presented by Bingo Dragon at Lancaster Brewery

Chris Satori
'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare
Performed by Bingo Dragon Theatre Company
Directed by Sammi Searle
At Lancaster Brewery
Sunday 15 + Monday 16 July 2013 at 7.30pm. £6.

Bingo Dragon Theatre Company is one of Lancaster’s newest theatre groups, and has now performed four of Shakespeare plays over the last two years.  Quite a feat – and they’re now not only touring the North West for the first time, they’ve also been the first theatre company to perform in the off-the-wall setting of Lancaster Brewery.

Their latest offering was Shakespeare’s Macbeth, co-written with his Jacobean contemporary Thomas Middleton, particularly in the witch scenes.  They used the Folio text with only minor cuts, and gave an intelligent, powerfully dark performance of the bloody drama, with suitably menacing musical accompaniment on percussive beer barrels.

The use of the Brewery’s bar-cum-events space was commendably innovative, but the seating - fine for Bierkeller festivals - was far from comfortable.  The sound of the ventilation system was an intrusion, though the diction of the cast was strong enough to overcome most of the background noise.

Playing Macbeth with only eight actors, and of these only three were men, was hard work for the cast, even with suggestive and intelligent costume changes.  It also caused some confusion about which character was which of the original two-dozen plus rôles.  The servants, soldiers and messengers can be doubled (and were in the 1600s), but to have King Malcolm also playing one of the three witches was bewildering.

But the main ingredients of a good show were certainly in place - pace, clarity, focussed direction from Sammi Searle, use of space, visual and visceral impact and so on.  Of the cast, Paul Sellwood played the lead with panache and passion, native Scot David Findlay was a dignified Macduff, the hero’s nemesis, and Anna Rowland encapsulated exactly Lady M’s emotional collapse.

I hope this performance will attract more young people to become involved with Bingo Dragon in the future - there’s certainly no shortage of talent in the Lancaster area.  I’m looking forward to their next production.

Copyright © Michael Nunn
18 July 2013

'Macbeth' can be seen on Friday 19th July 2013 - The Continental,  South Meadow Lane, Preston, PR1 8JP. 8pm start. £6. (Go to website)