The New London Company has created an ambitious Macbeth at the Lion and Unicorn in Kentish Town. Director Scott Ellis has done a remarkable job of turning the potential pitfalls of performing such an epic piece in a small space to his advantage. Staged in traverse, so that the audience is forced to look into each other’s eyes as well as those of the Thane of Cawdor, it is a pressure-cooker Macbeth. The presence of a young cast helps to foster that feeling- instead of a middle aged middle manager suddenly imbued with excess power, Ben Kavanagh’s Macbeth is filled with the urgency of youth. It is a fascinating take on a complicated character- a manchild returned home from war triumphant but battle-scarred, who looks to his young wife for comfort but finds only ambition. As Lady Macbeth, Natasha McClure is imposing, though occaisionally whiny. Tamara Astor proves herself a versatile performer- she injects the play with much-needed levity as the Porter, amuses as the only female amongst a trio of truly weird Weird Sisters, and touches the audience as Lady MacDuff, staring down impending doom whilst holding onto her baby for dear life. Only Albert Clack, quite literally the elder statesman, feels out of place.
The problem of the production lies in the ending. When the lights came back up, my companion and I looked at each other and said “that’s it?” We know well how Macbeth ends, but it felt too quick, too easy. Perhaps that means we enjoyed ourselves.