Brave Macbeth

Dec 20 2017 | By More

★★★★☆   Enjoyably educational

Rose Theatre: Mon 18 – Sat 23 Dec 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

Brave Macbeth, presented by Gilded Balloon in the Rose Theatre Basement, is a beautifully pitched children’s musical combining the Scottish Play with tunes, humour and shameless messing about.

The basic story is preserved, and provides a suitable spine for a parade of songs, gags and playing to the gallery. This is largely well thought out and, crucially, knows when to stop and get back to the story.

A scene from Brave Macbeth. Pic Captivate Theatre

While retaining chunks of the original dialogue, the narrative is thoroughly accessible to all ages. This does inevitably tone down some of the potential horror, which means that much of the climax loses its power. The silly jokes, cheery songs and general stupidity do more than compensate, however.

Originally devised by Captivate Theatre under the leadership of director Sally Lyall, and with musical direction by Tommie Travers, this has appeared several times at the Fringe, but has now cropped up in Edinburgh’s Christmas schedule.

Despite the odd festive reference, it never quite convinces as Yuletide entertainment. This hardly matters, as the much-admired and award-winning production continues to satisfy however many times the cast changes.

Georgia-Lee Roberts (Lady Macbeth) is particularly impressive, wringing every last drop of comic potential out of what comes across as more of a musical theatre diva than a tragic Shakespearean figure.

a real sense of fun

Most of the other cast members play several roles. Scott Coltman’s murderer, incomprehensible under his balaclava, is a beautifully performed and perfectly ludicrous comic role, while Sandy Bain, Max Reid and Ross Hunter also convey a real sense of fun to the audience without ever quite going too far over the top.

A scene from Brave Macbeth. Pic Captivate Theatre

Meg Laird-Drummond and Sally Cairns, meanwhile, combine apparently effortless stage presence with genuine vocal power.

At times it is in danger of all becoming a bit silly, so it is lucky that someone is anchoring the show. Liam Forrester has something of a thankless task as Macbeth, as he cannot afford to indulge in the grandstanding the other characters are allowed.

He does hold everything together with aplomb, although his big climactic number – when he finally gets to do the soliloquy he has been itching to perform all along – does not quite convince. This is partly because the Shakespearean references here, like those provided by Macduff’s spoon-puppet children, seem unnecessary.

That it runs out of steam somewhat at the end is unavoidable, as senseless slaughter and betrayed prophecies do not lend themselves quite so readily to knockabout fun. No matter, however, when this not only functions so well as an introduction to Shakespeare for young audiences, but is also funny and enjoyable in its own right.

Running time 1 hour 5 minutes (no interval)
Rose Theatre (Basement), 204 Rose Street, EH2 4AZ
Monday 18 – Saturday 23 December 2017
Daily at 5.00 pm
Information and tickets:


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