Brave Macbeth

Aug 6 2017 | By More

★★★★☆    Brilliant children’s theatre

Gilded Balloon at Museum (Venue 76): Fri 4 – Wed 16 Aug 2017
Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre (Venue 64): Fri 18 – Sun 27 Aug 2017
Review by Lucy Evans

Brave Macbeth from Captivate Theatre at Gilded Balloon venues is everything a children’s musical should be – and educational too.

Aptly performed in the National Museum before transferring to the new Rose Theatre, Sally Lyall and Tommie Travers’ Macbeth is a wholeheartedly engaging 60 minutes of murder, magic and mischief.

The Cast of Brave Macbeth. Photo Captivate Theatre.

Captivate Theatre company are certainly brave this fringe, with seven different shows across the city. None more so perhaps than Brave Macbeth, a one-hour children’s musical adaptation of the Scottish play.

Their Macbeth starts as it always does – “When shall we three meet again?” the witches ask, but soon the Shakespearean language gives way to modern Scots – and of course a song.

Now in the company’s sixth year at Fringe, musical director Travers certainly knows his stuff, and each number is catchy and plot-driving. Some songs are too text-heavy though, meaning important information is lost as actors struggle to spit the lyrics out. This is where Lyall’s strong direction is particularly successful, and the movement and physical comedy leaves no audience member behind.

Being both a musical and a children’s show allows the cast to break the fourth wall, not just to explain the plot but also add references for those who are already familiar with the story.


The chorus is strong and energetic throughout, with Meg Laird-Drummond’s head witch and Scott Coltman’s murderer, purposefully incomprehensible through his balaclava, being particular standouts. Katie Lynch as Lady Macbeth is a formidable presence but it is Liam Forrester as her husband who carries the show – and when he is finally allowed to do a soliloquy it is a highlight indeed.

Generally the company do well to introduce both important themes and language like this without explicitly stating what it means, and Forrester’s references to other Shakespearean tragedies adds an interesting touch. Perhaps the referencing should have ended here though. The Shakespearean characters sandwiched in as Macduff’s children are confusing and verge on detracting from the plot. Lady M telling Viola she’s not sure why she dresses in boys’ clothing is also a questionable lesson for children in 2017.

Of course, cutting Shakespeare down so much will leave many favourite moments out, but it still feels a shame that a tormented Lady Macbeth has mere moments to wash the blood from her hands. However, in general, Lyall has chosen well, and the children’s show offers interesting interpretations in other places – for example with the ghostly Banquo’s head on a platter becoming a humorous moment.

The overall effect is fantastic. This fusion of Monty Python and Cliffs Notes is the perfect mix of educational and enjoyable – and would work wonders in schools.

Running time: 1 hour
Gilded Balloon at Museum, Lothian Street, EH1 1HB (Venue 64)
Friday 4 – Wednesday 16 August 2017, Daily at noon
Tickets from

Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, 204 Rose Street, EH2 4AZ (Venue 76)
Friday 18 – Sunday 27 August 2017, Daily at 10:15
Tickets and details:

Company website:

Facebook: captivatetheatre

Twitter: @Captivate_LTD


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