Living with Macbeth

Showing at the Unity Theatre
From 7th September 2012

Reviewed by Jennifer Keegan

Living with Macbeth was billed as a psychological story about reminiscence and past glories. About actors and what they do... and what they should not do. Written by Paul Braithwaite and Kevin Brannagan it cleverly explores the line between actors, ability and celebrity. A two man show, manipulating the story easily between past and present, flows beautifully between the actor who, having played all the big roles; Hamlet, Lear and of course Macbeth, now simply lives within his past glory and the celebrity comedian, who after a successful stint on Big Brother, has taken a career turn when he takes on the part of Macbeth.

Paul Braithwaite and Kevin Brannagan easily pull the show together, highlighting the fine line between passion and obsession. Reading other peoples reviews in the paper shows the bitterness and jealousy that comes when the limelight is no longer firmly on you. They highlight how actors need to justify their existence, relying heavily on their work to do so. They touch on the ridiculousness of celebrity, whist all along incorporating the original text of Macbeth into the script. As the play continues, the two men turn on each other, each blaming the other for their failures and disappointments.

The play relied heavily on clever lighting work to add the feeling of panic and anxiety, a feeling backed up perfectly by the small theatre. The concept was wonderful and the idea of their tortured souls struggling right before our eyes made the play gripping and all consuming. If only they had edited out a rather daft section involving a stuffed parrot puppet reciting Shakespeare this would have been perfect. The highlight for me was as the actor remembers falling in love with the stage as a young boy in his first ever play, only now realising that as he took on that first character, he has never been himself since; he has always been character. Beautiful, powerful and all encompassing. A massive success!

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