DESPITE the added pressure of being watched by acting royalty Sir Ian McKellen, the cast of Macbeth put in a steely performance of the Scottish play.
A stripped-down stage allowed a full house to focus on the talents of the troupe led by Andrew Barella as the protagonist.
He holds the audience in the palm of his bloodied hand as he hatches a plan to commit regicide to further his ambitions.
Goading him along is the excellent Corinne Kilvington as Lady Macbeth. Her sleepwalking scene and its famous “Out damned spot” line was a stand-out moment which had my eyes glued to the stage.
She delivers the Lady’s unravelling, from a woman full of murderous thoughts to one pricked by conscience, with aplomb.
Sir Ian, who was sat along from me, looked pretty impressed too as he scribbled down notes.
Indeed, while the group scenes had a few wobbles, it was the soliloquies which shone out in the show. It is during these scenes that the group really got to stretch their acting legs in front of one of the world’s most famous Macbeths.
Jonny Shadforth gave a commanding performance as Macduff, the key to Macbeth’s demise. He delivered his lines fluently as his voice boomed around the theatre. But his voice soon becomes his sword as he and Macbeth do battle, a fight scene which had me holding my breath.
But perhaps my favourite performance belonged to teenager Lauren Waine, and her evil eyes, as the second witch.
She is delightfully creepy as one third of the bewitching trio right down to her fingertips.
But it wasn’t all gloom and gore. The lecherous porter, played by Christine Appleton, brought some welcome laughs to the proceedings.
Amateur they may, but the cast put in a performance befitting the stage legend who sat in the audience. They immersed themselves in one of Shakespeare’s best-known stories step by bloody step.