Aug 15 2018 | By More

★★☆☆☆   Fairly foul

Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29): Mon 13 –Sat 18 Aug 2018
Review by Hugh Simpson

As befits a play so often performed and studied, Macbeth has been the object of many reworkings and extensions over the years. Unfortunately, for every Dunsinane there are ten less memorable efforts. The Little Shakespeare Company’s Hecate falls into the latter category.

As the title suggests, the production – at the Paradise in the Vault annexe – illustrates the life of Lady Macbeth through the figure of Hecate, the Queen of the witches. Her scenes in Macbeth are, of course, habitually cut, and are notable for being some of the worst things Shakespeare almost certainly didn’t actually write.

Rachel Barr, Michelle van Rensburg and Faye Turpie Laird in Hecate

Rachel Barr, Michelle van Rensburg and Faye Turpie Laird in Hecate

Jay van Rensburg’s play unsurprisingly features large chunks of Shakespeare, and the transitions between the various sections are not exactly seamless.

The point of it all is less than clear. Publicity bills the show as a ‘thriller’ and ‘a chilling time travel story’ but for anyone who knows the story of Macbeth, there will be no thrills (and for anyone who doesn’t, it won’t make much sense).

The time travel element consists of a paradox that will be instantly familiar to anyone with any experience of science fiction, and is never explored, merely being stated several times.

The two incarnations of Lady Macbeth are portrayed by two young performers – Faye Turpie Laird as the child, and Rachel Barr as the older version. No criticism should be attached to either of them, as they both turn in very fine performances that are solely responsible for the production’s second star.


Director Michelle van Rensburg deserves credit for getting such commendable acting from these two cast members. However, this does seem to be at the expense of her own performance as Hecate. This could charitably be described as exuberant. At times, it has the texture of a 1980s sitcom, and makes it very difficult to work out whether the whole thing is meant to be some kind of spoof.

Some of the things that undermine the production are not its own fault – it might, for example, have a much more spooky atmosphere late at night rather than at 11 in the morning.

Overall, however, this just goes to prove that the temptation to mess about with The Scottish Play, however tempting it may be to so many of us, should be avoided wherever possible.

Running time 55 minutes (no interval)
Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29), 11 Merchant St, EH1 2QD
Monday 13 – Saturday 18 August 2018
Daily at 11.10 am
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/hecate
Company website: https://www.littleshakespearecompany.co.uk


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