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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Theatre review: Macbeth

Published in the Guardian
Perth Theatre
Four stars
WE are in a relentlessly masculine landscape. The towering, grey edifice of Kenny Miller's set looms over an all-male cast dressed in muted colours, their clothes looking as bruised as their battle-worn faces. Even the witches in Rachel O'Riordan's formidable production are played by men. Gaunt, angular, hard as nails – they are weird sisters indeed.

Keith Fleming's Macbeth is tough, plain-speaking and austere, which is why Leila Crerar's Lady Macbeth makes such an impression when she appears in an off-white shawl, bathed in the glow of Kevin Treacy's majestic lighting. She is – and will remain – the only woman on stage.

She is also arrestingly young. Swinging her bare legs in the air, Crerar's Lady Macbeth is a child on the cusp of womanhood, one for whom adolescent thrill-seeking rather than steely forward planning drives her ambition. She can be stern, but she can also be carelessly superficial. Crerar says the line about being made bold by drink like a teenager who is giddily under the influence.

Until Lady Macbeth's mental health deteriorates, Crerar's flippancy contrasts sharply with Fleming's sober thane. Wild eyed and sweet voiced, he is as uncomfortable with his accumulating power as he is with his bloody crimes. He is a man possessed, and distressed, by some bigger force. When the final assessment – that he was a tyrant and she a "fiend-like queen" – comes, it rings false. These Macbeths are less sociopaths than impulsive victims of circumstance.

Both stars give lucid, driven interpretations, but the show is not theirs alone. O'Riordan brings forth clear and intelligent performances across the board. From the magnetic stillness of Richard Conlon's Ross to the bottled-up bitterness of Michael Moreland's Banquo, they seem not so much angry as sadly let down by the once-golden couple.
© Mark Fisher 2013
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