Shakespeare in the Garden – Brave Macbeth

Aug 14 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩     Great fun

Young critics scheme review
The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87): Fri 7 – Mon 31 Aug 2015

Hilariously silly yet educational, Captivate Theatre’s production of Shakespeare in the Garden – Brave Macbeth for children proves a roaring success with child and adult audience members alike.

Perhaps the production’s greatest asset is the balance which director Sally Lyall strikes with just about everything. It educates on Shakespeare and the classic tale, but not so much that the children realise they are being taught.

Brave Macbeth
An excellent balance is found between the comical, almost cartoonish figure of Macbeth (played by Malcolm Cumming) and the sarcastic, dominant character brought to Lady Macbeth by Sylvia Cowie.

Lyall strikes a difficult balance with the humour. It’s childish, but not so much that the adults in the audience find themselves cringing, and not so much that it becomes patronising. In fact, the laughter sparked in the adults is almost totally equal to that of the children.

The acting in this production is excellent- a huge range of talent throughout. The actors commit to and carry off outstanding performances. Shining from the moment he comes galavanting through the audience is Malcolm Cumming, with a humorous and memorable performance which stays true to the basic elements of Macbeth, but exaggerates them to fit a familiar, heroic character in a child-friendly and highly energetic manner.

Adrian Macdonald portrays Banquo as a silly, bumbling sidekick – which could be excruciating. However, Macdonald’s comic timing and facial expressions make the character uproariously funny.

Shakespearean language

The script could include more Shakespearean language from the original play. The director is clearly just aiming to make sure the kids understand exactly what is being said. However, when the original words are used and then explained it works extremely well and this could increase the educational value of the play if used more often.

Sometimes, too, it does seem slightly as though Shakespeare’s words are being made fun of rather than simply being exaggerated for comedic effect, which is clearly not the director’s aim. Overall, however, the Shakespearean element is very well thought-out and put across.

The production also, at times, underestimates its own funniness when it feels the need to use, for example, a fart joke. It is perfectly amusing as it is, without needing to revert to the use of something so clichéd. The children laugh all the way through anyway. More confidence is needed in the comedy of the actors and the sense of humour in child audiences.

Overall, plenty of audience interaction keeps the kids hooked and excited from beginning to end, and the soundtrack, courtesy of musical director Tommie Travers, is worthy of a popular musical. The energetic, captivating and unapologetically fun production manages to entertain all ages.

A fantastic show for anyone who wants to discreetly educate their kids – and be highly entertained in the process.

Running time: 1 hour
The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87), St Andrew Square, EH2 1AF
Fri 7 – Mon 31 Aug 2015
Performances: 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 26, 29, 31 August
The three Shakespeare in the Gardens shows play two a day, daily (not Mons 10, 17 & 24) at 10.30am and 11.45am.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Or the ARfringe website:
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