Cast: Kevin Brannagan, Paul Braithwaite.

How do you live with yourself if you can’t live with one of the greats? Kevin Brannagan and Paul Braithwaite explore this premise in the first play of the new season at the Unity Theatre, the enticing Living With Macbeth. 

Mixing the present with the past and the works of Shakespeare being performed on stage is not the easiest idea to get your head round. However when the pieces start to string together; the lives of the seasoned professional actor and the stand-up comedian who has taken a career turn to take on the role of Macbeth for a theatre company, worlds just don’t collide, they fracture, snap and ultimately destruct leaving lives in a tangled violent ruin.

Whereas the play A Life in Theatre by David Mamet deals with the idea of two actors forming a bond in their struggle to enchant and educate an audience is one of the highlights of a theatre production. The upside of a theatre life, Living With Macbeth gives the audience a glimpse of what happens when the world of art clashes with the world of so called celebrity culture. The play deals with arguments and flashes of despotic like anger that erupts from bitter rivalry. The course of jealousy that binds it together is shocking, dramatic, captivating and utterly enthralling as a theatre piece as you are ever likely to see about the world of an actor.

Both Kevin Brannagan and Paul Braithwaite gave outstanding performances, both showcasing the insanity of what has passed between the two men, the use of the stark stage reflecting the bleak attitude they have for each other but also and very well written into the performance is the use of some of the greatest lines from Britain’s greatest playwright.

The final pay-off is perhaps one of the most brutal, most intense parts of a play you are likely to see for a while as the thin thread of reality frays and snaps and the shocking conclusion reveals itself and yet the mood is tempered by the exquisite nature of the music that comes over the top of it. The beautiful original music performed by Kaya from the highly rated Science of the Lamps acts a dichotomy to what the audience is privy to witness and like the bloody murder of Banquo, they are observers into the death of human reason.

An excellent play, performed with an abundance of dramatic passion and unnerving theatrical violence.

Ian D. Hall