Macbeth! The Musical, Halesworth

JOHN LAWSON It's a brave man who tries to popularise Shakespeare, but Framlingham musician Michael Peck has a noble crack at it with Macbeth! — The Musical.

JOHN LAWSON

It's a brave man who tries to popularise Shakespeare, but Framlingham musician Michael Peck has a noble crack at it with Macbeth! — The Musical.

It's ironic that his new show should receive its world premiere at Halesworth Arts Centre in the week when Bob Carlton's version of the Tempest, Return to the Forbidden Planet, is playing at Norwich Theatre Royal, for Carlton is the only other writer who has dared to mess with The Scottish Play in his minor hit, From a Jack to a King.

Sadly, where Carlton succeeded and Peck fails is that Carlton took a step back from the Bard's text and asked himself what the non-Shakespeare-goer would want to see.

Peck sticks faithfully to the great tragic saga, so his music becomes almost superfluous and distracting.

As a piece of drama, James Holloway's production is full of merit, notably in performances from James Peck and Clare Hawes as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, ably assisted by Thomas Holloway as Macduff.

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Peck's Macbeth has power and ambition in spades while Hawes has a heart of erotic evil. James Holloway gives them every opportunity to shine with some beautiful pieces of stagecraft.

But even his pacy direction cannot save a show which, at almost four hours, is way too long.

Peck is certainly a talented composer, but his diverse mix is too clever for its own good and his orchestrations are far too busy.

He is at his most effective with simple show tunes, a principle which serves him well in the second half.

At the moment, it falls between far too many stools.

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