Macbeth, Scotland's Theatre Gateway, Edinburgh

Compressed Macbeth bewitches at high speed
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The Independent Culture

"Don't look now" seems to be the message of the three red-cloaked, hooded witches in the latest take on the Scottish play.

"Don't look now" seems to be the message of the three red-cloaked, hooded witches in the latest take on the Scottish play.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Theatre Babel has developed an enthralling version of Macbeth in which director/designer Graham McLaren and the company play up the contrast between good and evil, innocence and guilt in a highly atmospheric setting. Radical cuts to the text give a sense of urgency to this interpretation, even if the haste with which prophecies unfold, lives are bloodily despatched, and fate presses boldly on, is as unseemly as Macbeth's ruthless assumption of the throne.

With a cast of eight actors and a small brood of children, the teamwork is outstanding. Rebecca Rodgers offers sterling queenly support to John Kazek's ruthless tyrant, who is alternately smoothly plausible and frighteningly frenzied. The devilish figure who shadows him is an invention, a composite charactereerily interpreting Macbeth's thoughts and actions, while the ghosts add their own sinister note. A hypnotically menacing soundtrack by Anthea Haddow adds to its nightmare quality.

To 29 August (not Wednesdays); 0131 317 3939; Aberdeen from 8-11 September; Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 22-25 September; Warwick Arts Centre 28 September-2 October. Information on 0141 226 8806

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