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Macbeth making sense?

An exciting day at Fly Festival never stops as Debs Newbold takes us out of Norwich and into Scotland to experience the story of Macbeth. Newbold enters the stage with confidence, making the audience silent in a matter of seconds. She states to us that her purpose of storytelling was to, "break up" the Shakespeare story and, "build it up" again and mold it into her own story; and from her first word to her last, she stays true to this throughout the entire act.

She opens the act with a sequence of emotive language and gives the audience a flavor of what is to be expected. I'll be honest, I went into this quite skeptical of how anyone could possibly make Shakespeare entertaining to a younger audience, but Debs really pulled it off. Her elaborate hand gestures and movement around the stage kept your eyes dancing in order to follow her through the journey through Scotland.

She begins by explaining the gruesome battle between the Scottish and the Norwegians. She swipes with her arms and dances across the stage allowing my imagination to fill the room with a myriad of wounded soldiers. The rise and fall of volume and tone bring the action to the stage: when the fighting is between miscellaneous characters, her voice is quick and the pace of the battle is moved on past the unimportant characters. But when Macbeth, the mighty warrior appears, her voice becomes slower and softens a bit which brings attention to him. His name is not mentioned at first, which is clever of Newbold. She is bringing attention to his character before the warrior is exposed as being the antagonist of the story. We are already impressed by Macbeth before we know who he is.

Throughout the whole of the act, Newbold is consistent with her act keeping the attention of the packed room. She never breaks her storytelling stance: there are no awkward pauses or stutters. The story flows beautifully and all makes sense. All archaic and awkward language is taken out and more simplistic, yet detailed, language is used throughout which keeps the attention since it doesn't allow the mind to drift. Newborns act never strays from the story line and contains lots of description without it being tedious, how Newborn achieves this is beyond me.

I realised half way through that I needed a few more notes and as I brought my attention back to my notepad and pen, it hit me that this was just a woman telling a story on stage with her words and movement but while you're engrossed you can picture everything. Suddenly I had transformed from an extensive castle in Scotland back to the theatre and I was actually shocked at how amazing her imagery lexis was since it really took me away.

Newbold really stunned me with how amazing her improvising skills are. For example, a cluster of children entered the show part way through the show and the children were stood at the side of the room unable to sit down at the risk of interrupting - but luckily at the moment that she was describing the feast celebrating Macbeth. Debs moved towards the children and explained that there were, "Lords and Thains" and there were, "hundreds of them". As she was explaining this, she gestured the children to walk through and sit down and made the audience believe that they were the Lords and Thains that attended Macbeth's celebration.

She had me lost for words at how impressed I was at her quick thinking of moving the children through the stage. Not only this, but someone's phone went off and instead of panicking, Debs continued the story which conveniently was at the point of describing the sounds around Macbeth, and she slipped in a joke of hearing a phone, "even though they weren't invented" which managed to get a laugh out of everyone. Debs really had me impressed at her quick thinking and improvisation skills, she turned something that could have been a disaster quickly into a funny and clever part of the story. In addition to this, the story is already interactive since Newbold makes the audience join in by chanting, "boil boil, toil and trouble. Fire burns and cauldron bubble." The audience really got into this and the whole room was echoing after the words had been shouted during the story.

To conclude, Newbold's rendition of Macbeth is a must see, it's engrossing and thoroughly amazing. This version is one you cannot miss and both adults and children can enjoy this remastered version of Shakespeare.

Emma Ireland