Review: Macbeth, Derby Theatre

Index macbethThe lure of ambition and its resulting bloody treachery is the central theme of Macbeth that has led to many interpretations of the classic tale over the years.

Ten years ago the BBC set it in a Michelin star restaurant with a power hungry sous chef as Macbeth and the celebrity owner he wanted to oust as Duncan.

That version didn’t work for me, but Tara Arts’ re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Scottish play as a modern-day story of a feuding Asian family’s path to self-destruction had me gripped from the opening scene.

Perfectly choreographed movement by Kali Chandrasegaram, breathtaking fight sequences and the mesmerizing drumming and sound effects from the onstage musician make it a spectacle not to be missed.

In this adaptation of Macbeth, which is currently on at Derby Theatre, director Jatinder Verma is exploring the idea that all migrants carry two worlds with them, the world they inhabit and the faint memories they have of the world their forebears left behind.

The co-founder of Tara Arts, echoes the other world felt by Asians in Britain today by adding rich costumes and bare feet to the contemporary setting and by switching the three witches to three transgender Hijras who in India today bless births and marriages, mischievously prophesying fame and fortune.

They brought a macabre sense of comedy to the production and were a triumph. Double Double Toil and Trouble will never be the same again now I have witnessed their version of the spell – if only we could have seen more of them.

Robert Mountford was strong and confident in the lead role and Shaheen Khan was a chilling Lady Macbeth, however it was Shalini Peiris in her role as a porter and servant who deserves a special mention, as she lightened up the stage every time she appeared.

The rest of the cast, who all played several roles, were excellent especially in the fight scenes which were packed with powerful punches and made utterly realistic by the superb choreography by fight director Kev McCurdy and the sound effects created by the musician Rax Timyr.

The play, produced in association with Queen’s Hall Arts and Black Live can be seen at Derby Theatre until April 25. For tickets go to

The rest of the cast is, Mitesh Soni, Banquo, Ralph Birtwell, Duncan and a witch, Deven Modha, Malcolm and a witch, Umar Pasha, Macduff and John Afzal, Ross and a witch.

Design was by Claudia May, lighting Paul Keogan, sound Paul Bull, composer, Hassan Mohyeddin, and production manager Tom Albu.