REVIEW: Macbeth; by Ponteland Community Middle School; Northern Stage, Newcastle

The students on stage in Newcastle. The Ponteland Community Middle School group is on the left.
The students on stage in Newcastle. The Ponteland Community Middle School group is on the left.

The young actors and musicians who staged a version of the Bard’s famous Scottish play on Saturday night combined to put on an excellent performance.

The team, from Ponteland Community Middle School, was one of three school groups to perform an abridged version of a play on the night as part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival.

The event is the UK’s largest youth drama festival, working with more than 1,000 schools and 150 professional theatres. They provide all the tools, support and guidance necessary to enable schools to allow students to perform their own Shakespeare productions in front of a paying audience.

And the Ponteland group certainly didn’t leave anyone feeling short-changed as their coherent and powerful 30-minute version felt very professional, with competent acting and live music playing between the scenes.

Their performance of the tragedy was preceded by Gateshead College’s version of The Tempest and the age gap between the middle-school pupils and the older college students certainly wasn’t matched by a gap in quality. Indeed, I thought it was very much a case of saving the best for last.

As a play, and particularly in an abridged version, Macbeth requires a lot of stage time from the eponymous anti-hero and his wife. Fortunately, Alex Nicholson (Macbeth) and Sabrina Jackland (Lady Macbeth) were both superb, tackling tricky and well-known soliloquies with aplomb.

But overall it was a team effort and all those involved deserve congratulations for an entertaining production.

CAST LIST

Actors: Alex Nicholson (Macbeth), Sabrina Jackland (Lady Macbeth), Matthew Barron (Banquo), Emily Turner (Duncan/Seton/Murderer), Katie Lewis (Ross), Grace Simms (Witch 1), Grace Cummings (Witch 2), Karam Singh (Witch 3), Anna Barrett (Lennox), Ciaran Telfer (Macduff), Alba de Blas (Angus/Murderer), Lucy Carden (Malcolm), Christable Mutumbwa (Donalbain), Evan Stoker (Fleance/Siward), Jack Maskey (Mentieth/Porter), Alex Holmes (Servant).

Musicians: Lucy Cardno, Elizabeth Quigley, Anna Styles.

Director: Mr N Marshall. Assistant director: Miss C Carroll. Musical director: Ms W Fairweather.