Daniel Taylor Production’s Present Macbeth: A Review
Daniel Taylor Productions is back and is bringing the bloody, yet brilliant Shakespeare play to the Epstein stage for a limited time only. The Bard’s turbulent tale is set in post-civil war Scotland and is a story that delves into the trail of destruction left in the fight for political power. The tragedy tells the story of brave Scottish general Macbeth, played by Sean Jones, who, spurred by the telling of a prophecy by three witches, murders King Duncan, played by Warwick Evans, in order to gain the title of King.
The Scottish play is known for its turmoil and despair; it’s one wherein Macbeth’s actions seem to build and build until the audience is watching in a cringe like anguish as each barbaric murder seems finally take it’s toll on Macbeth, forcing the king, and the audience, to face the consequences of his actions. His paranoia is played perfectly by Jones, who delivers many a heart-wrenching lament on the situation he finds himself in. Similarly, the role of an admired king is played brilliantly by Broadway star, Evans. Watching from the front row, the entire experience felt very immersive and intense- I’d be lying if I said each time I made accidental eye contact with an actor mid-monologue I didn’t feel pretty jilted.
Daniel Taylor’s production does manage to create an immersion for the audience, who constantly feels as though they are part of the action. A highlight of the night was at the entrance of the drunk porter, walking from the back of the auditorium to the front, addressing the audience and stumbling drunk in front of us. The intimacy of the theatre allowed for this moment to feel like a particularly funny and personal scene. All of us in the audience looked at each other and laughed in our joint shock and frank fear of audience participation.
Still, the funny moments were rare, and this production of Macbeth was sincere and stuck to Shakespeare’s telling. Performances in the roles of Macbeth, King Duncan and Lady Macbeth were intense, but a personal favourite was that of Ethan Holmes who played Macduff, whose story-line is perhaps the most heart-wrenching. His torment was difficult to watch when it played out right in front of you.
Perhaps the fight scenes were slightly underwhelming, but for a small theatre and production, it’s difficult to be critical of the lack of commodities. As expected, it is true to the original play, and while this clearly makes the story and speech predictable, it’s done in a professional way with no slip up’s or mistakes ever being noted throughout the 3-hour production. Daniel Taylor’s Macbeth is an intense and intimate experience. It’s easy to tell when a production has professional hands behind it that care about the story and Macbeth checks all boxes.