Macbeth is a notoriously violent play. In this Youth Music Theatre UK production it is also full of music.
Composer Garth McConaghie's score, a clamorously urban soundscape gouged with dissonance, is a major feature. The musical sections come intermittently, and are finely calculated to dovetail with the abridged version of the text being used by the actors.
Director Stuart Harvey intelligently integrates elements of contemporary dance, making much of the witches' contributions, which suggest an element of insinuating mockery and understated menace subtly altering the play's conventional gender dynamics.
The standout performance is the Lady Macbeth of Molly Coffey – she speaks the text with clarity and intelligence, commanding those around her with unnerving economy of gesture. Sam Garioch's Macbeth is also a considerable presence.
The set is dominated by crush barriers and a faceless phalanx of video screens flicking anonymous surveillance images as a backdrop to the action. The crowd scenes suggest a society desensitised by alienation, in which the brutality of the Macbeths' actions are but an extension of more deep-seated social maladies.
At a time of year when little of consequence is going on in our theatres, this stimulating, challenging Macbeth thoroughly merits a visit.