Theatre review: Macbeth, Diary of a Killer

EDINBURGH’S shoestring theatre scene is generally more conventional than Glasgow’s, with less of the cutting-edge experimental work, more of the straightforward encounter between young theatre-makers and an inspiring text.

Macbeth, Diary of a Killer - Augustines, Edinburgh

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Yet it can often provide a good, unpretentious night out; and that’s exactly what Shakespeare fans can expect from Charioteer Theatre’s 75-minute version of Macbeth, which appears for two nights only at home in Edinburgh, following a tour of Italy.

Devised by the company, and abridged by director Laura Pasetti, Macbeth: Biography Of A Killer is set in a 21st-century war bunker, where the beleaguered Macbeth is giving a final interview to a journalist, before going out to die. Occasionally, this framing device leads to some heavy-handed exposition; but generally, it’s handled with a light touch, allowing Steven McIntyre’s intense, youthful Macbeth to lead us through the main incidents of his career as a killer, retold – by and large – in Shakespeare’s own words. What emerges is a good, brief account of the Macbeth story, staged with visual flair by Pasetti and lighting designer Manuel Frenda, and meticulously choreographed for a small cast of four. And if the acting is variable, and the show sometimes seems more like a student exercise than a fully fledged production, it still goes a long way towards reminding us just how closely Macbeth’s story mirrors that of a blood-soaked 21st-century warlord; and does it with as much flair and imagination as many full-scale, 21st-century Macbeths, which make exactly the same point, at relatively vast expense.