Showing posts sorted by date for query Rae Smith. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query Rae Smith. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Macbeth, National Theatre | Review

Olivier Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 6th March 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

I've seen and studied a fair few Shakespeare plays but I wouldn't say I'm an expert in any form. I do however, know what I like when going to the theatre and recognise brilliant acting when I see it. The National Theatre's current production of Macbeth does have brilliant acting but overall it just didn't do it for me.

Walking into the wonderful Olivier theatre we are greeted with an almost bare stage, there are four poles with ragged, witchy fabric attached to the top; in the centre there is a sloped wooden platform decorated with severed limbs from plastic baby toys. Rae Smith's minimalistic set works well with the sparse life of the characters within the show; with them all (including Duncan and Macbeth) looking as though they're on the poverty line in muddy, battered clothes.

Rory Kinnear is thoughtful and suitably plagued as Macbeth; his small comedic moments are particularly enjoyable and he proves why he's such an esteemed actor.  

The choice to make Alana Ramsey's Murderer a fishnet tights-clad alcoholic is a great one and she works very well to show the extents which people will go to when they feel they have nothing, just to get their fix or some quick cash.

Trevor Fox's alcoholic Porter is like a ghost moving around, silently hearing all the secrets he shouldn't know. It's refreshing to see him as a more serious, important character rather than mainly being onstage for comedic relief. This darker side emphasises him as the metaphor for the gates of hell, something which I feel is often missed in productions of Macbeth.

It's Anne-Marie Duff who steals the show as Lady Macbeth. Every movement is clearly well thought out and her transition from the headstrong wife who lacks humanity to the crumbling woman plagued by ghosts is striking. 

I didn't find anything specifically wrong with this production, I just didn't really feel, well, anything. It's not scary, it's not particularly gory, it's not emotional and it's not funny, it's just a bit uninspiring. There are elements which have brought Shakespeare's play into the modern world but the emotions didn't translate for a modern audience... at least for me.

If you're a Shakespeare fan then there's no reason why you shouldn't go and judge Rufus Norris' Macbeth for yourself but if not then I wouldn't rush along, as I don't think this is the production to make you a fan.

Macbeth runs at the National Theatre until June 23rd and will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide on May 10th as part of NT Live.

photo credit: Brinkhoff Mögenburg

Monday, 13 November 2017

Saint George and the Dragon, National Theatre | Review

Saint George and the Dragon
Olivier Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 10th November 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

The National Theatre's current production of Saint George and the Dragon is a modern and ambitious twist on the traditional folk tale of Saint George the dragon-slayer. Described as "a folk tale for an uneasy nation" this production time travels from the medieval times all the way to the current day and questions whether England is losing it's traditional values and whether change is always positive.

Rory Mullarkey's play has faults and drags a little but its interesting and humourous throughout and works extremely well in the space of the Olivier theatre. 

As George himself, John Heffernan is Shakespearean, larger than life, witty and charming- perfect for the role. A particularly funny moment is when he disguises himself as 'Ian' in the 2017 world, raising the question of how much we're willing to change to fit in. The character is interesting because as those around him change, he stays the same and becomes somewhat innocent in nature. This transition from the bold hero, to almost childlike is an interesting watch and the idea that distant 'heros' aren't always what the world needs is especially relevant now when it's being revealed that many Hollywood idol's are not the people we should be looking up to at all.

Julian Bleach is the perfect contrast as the sinister but witty Dragon; his portrayal is fantastically strong and gave me major child-catcher vibes in the second act. As the feisty, voice of reason heroine, Elsa, Amaka Okafor is brilliantly cast.

This show wouldn't be what it is without Rae Smith's outstanding set design which transitions along with the characters seamlessly and adds a simple but strong dimension to the play. From the green fields of medieval England to the factory filled London during the industrial revolution, each set is instantly recognisable. Whilst extremely fitting for the time period, the sets also have a humourous aspect such as the way smoke puffs out of the factories. Accompanied by the great, atmospheric lighting by Bruno Poet we are transported through the history of England.

Overall I don't think this play will be to everyone's taste and it could certainly be trimmed down for a smoother flow but it's definitely interesting and I enjoy how it raises some important and relevant questions whilst still remaining humourous. Its genuinely funny and entertaining and Rory Mullarkey has done a great job of reinventing a traditional tale.