Director: Ben Humphrey

Associate Director: May Whittall

Lighting Designer: Jack Coleman

Sound Designer: Dominic Beale

THE concept of Ben Humphrey’s new company, The Young Rep, is to bring on the next generation of theatre-makers by giving them access to professional standard performance and creative opportunities. The company’s inaugural production, Macbeth, certainly delivered. From the moment one walks through the auditorium doors Dominic Beale’s movie-like soundscape plays tricks with our minds, and Jack Coleman’s seamless lighting design prepares the audience for the full force of the young company’s might.

The production is less of a performance and more of an experience for the audience as Humphrey’s take on the ‘Scottish play’ brings the bard’s tale into a dystopian world of survival and horror. George Ormerod and Charlotte Mason deliver the roles of the desperate couple clinging to power to life in fresh and vibrant performances that made the audience quite forget that the performers were all under the age of 21. Ormerod wields his words with dynamic force as Mason ensures he is kept on his toes with constant parrying and ripostes in such a way that makes me wonder why the play isn't titled The Macbeths. The pair have such incredible chemistry on stage, that in the audience’s darker moments we genuinely feel for them and want them to succeed. No mean feat.

Mason also doubles as one of the witches, along with Hannah Whitehouse and Steffi Mountain. The horror-mask clad trio move effortlessly around, through and beneath the stage causing genuine gasps of fear from audience members at times. The ferocity with which the three attack the other characters is incredible and shows a strength that the weird sisters often lack. These girls are out for blood…and they get it.

Alex Buckley doubles as an infirm Duncan and the much abler Macduff. Buckley’s finest moment outside of the fight scene was the realisation of his family’s demise which left the audience in no doubt that Macduff was a man on a mission. Both Buckley and Alex Scoby (Banquo/Siward) deliver viciously violent fight scenes with Macbeth and Siward’s end especially delivers a shocking moment that made the audience jump right out of their seats. Neither of Scoby’s characters make it to the end of the play intact, but before his untimely demise, we get a real sense of a relationship between Banquo and Macbeth, which makes his death even more hard to swallow.

Emily Jones, Luke Hudson, Harvey Porter, Ben Sears, Sam Witherall, Will Hoaen and Lauren Roberts all take a number of roles between them which gives them the opportunity to showcase their incredible versatility as performers. They did not disappoint. Roberts’ Lady Macduff and her brutal end was particularly harrowing.

Humphrey is well known to audiences as the comic pantomime character, Dame Ginny in the professional company’s annual Christmas outing. He is perhaps less well known for his directorial work, which is no less successful. His work as a director has transferred internationally, and his latest version of Macbeth demonstrates why.

Opening night is never an easy one. However, the reaction from the students spoke volumes. They hadn’t just seen a performance of Macbeth…they’d seen the future of theatre. And they knew it.

Macbeth runs until Saturday, March 10 at the Swan Theatre, Worcester.

Tickets from Worcester Live Box Office.