MACBETH - Tight Fit Theatre Wycombe Town Hall

Four bronzed panels, two streaked with blood formed the stark setting for this innovative production of the 'Scottish play'. Anyone expecting a traditional rendering should have been disabused when a grubby woman, with wild hair, took a front row seat, shortly followed by a woman with a pram and a small wild creature giving a piggyback to an oversize doll. The witches received their instructions from Hecate, earlier in the play than normal - slight touch of the Charlie's Angels? - and from then on, Macbeth was lost.

The women moved easily in and out of the action, changing like necromantic chameleons into the other characters. Sadie McMahon was totally focussed, as hag, as Fleance and then Malcolm, though there were times when her energetic delivery meant words were lost, Charlotte Melen gave us a sympathetic Lady Macduff and Jenny Quille, the bag lady from the front row, deserves special mention for an excellent performance changing from hag to regal Duncan, then bawdy porter with clarity and complete command of the stage. Hannah Birkin delivered a fiery, ambitious Lady Macbeth, whose frenetic madness was deliciously uncomfortable to watch. David Haworth as Banquo and Ralph Mondi as Macduff created solid credible characters.

Mark Oldknow's Macbeth was a man, fighting for control, but knowing he had none. It was restrained, powerful and utterly convincing, no mean feat since he also directed. Unusually, Macbeth was seen to wield the knife himself, not only killing Duncan, but also dispatching Banquo, Lady Macduff and her children. It was a spine-chilling touch when Macduff produced the same blade to put an end to the usurper.

The whole was elegantly lit and underscored by well-chosen music. This was a fitting production to open the tenth season of Tight Fit, long may it continue.

Helen E Sharman GoDA

Macbeth, 2005 - home page.