MACBETH, THE PANTOMIME – Lytchett Matravers Village Hall


25 January 2020

You have to look very hard these days for a traditional production of a Shakespeare play – every kind of re-interpretation, re-imagining and dismantling of the Bard’s work seems to be the norm. Pantomime, on the other hand, is largely undertaken as a traditional presentation; there are ‘rules’ and in any pantomime season there are Cinderellas, Jacks and Aladdins coming at you from every direction. Thus, the lure of a production of ‘Macbeth – The Pantomime’ is that it rips up most of the rulebook and goes out on a limb with something completely different.

An appropriate choice to be performed on Burn’s Night, The Castle Players production, written and directed by Linsey O’Neil, takes Shakespeare’s original and combines it with a talent show – ‘Lytchett’s Got The Strictly Voice Pop Star on Love Island Factor’. What follows is an inventive, funny and rather bonkers show.

In a nutshell, wicked Laydee Macbeth and her henpecked husband are keen to topple Duncan Blue who is King of Karaoke in the TV talent show and following the predictions of three witches – cue for a funny ‘witch/which’ routine – they clear the way for success by foul means. The Talent show is judged by three incompetents – Simone Cow – the ruthless one, Bruno Spagettelli – the eccentric one with a permatan and Wiil-I-am Shakespeare who only speaks in lines from his plays; it’s running gag that is very clever and very funny.

Fighting the foe is Mamma Macduff and her son Marty – a would-be winner of the show, who fancies the technician Rocky Roadie, oh and there’s a dog called Spot – cue more references to the original play. Maybe close investigation might betray some plot holes – but who cares?

Deanna Langford looks great as the evil Laydee, plotting her way through life and dominating her feeble husband Dave Macbeth played by Steve O’Neil. In the duel role of Duncan Blue and his ‘twin’, Banquo, Phil McMullen is a tour de force – not least in his conversation with himself which is exhaustingly funny. Mollie Burdon and Lucie Harding combine well and both sing beautifully as the loving couple of Marty and Rockie and Val Holland, Pete Bennett and Richard Owen all have fun as the judges, complete with their X Factor-style buzzers. Steve Moore oversees proceedings as the likeable and quirky Dame, delivering some very funny gags with aplomb.

The sets are very simple – mainly slash curtains – but they suffice and the action moves from scene to scene easily, though some do appear to end rather abruptly.

There are some good, appropriate song choices, ‘Killer Queen’ and ‘Murder on the Dance Floor’, for example; generally, the singing is a little tentative and maybe some more microphone support could have been used. Choreography too was a little tame – a bit more pizazz was needed.

This is a very enjoyable show with many excellent gags – many at the expense of Shakespeare, but they work. The cast is obviously having a great time and the auditorium was packed – this is a real community event and it is never less than a pleasure to see local theatre groups being well supported.

Linsey O’Neill has created a fun and very original pantomime and directed it with the emphasis on giving great entertainment to the audience. Yes, it is a little rough around the edges, but, no one minds. The Castle Players Theatre Group have great heart and are to be applauded for being brave, original and game for a laugh.


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