When Bob Carlton's rock'n'roll Macbeth hit the Boulevard Theatre earlier this year, it was knowing about Shakespeare and about rock, and attractively irreverent to both; the musos were as tight and as talented as one would expect from the stable of Return To The Forbidden Planet; above all, it was a fun hour and a half, tiring only in the home straight when it became less a matter of marrying songs to the plot (drummer Eric Glamis embraces the dark side, tops vocalist Terry King and is re-created as megastar Thane Cawdor) than of finding any old hook to hang another '60s standard on.
In lengthening the show to West End duration, however, Carlton has stretched the rest to the same membranous thinness – a retrograde step in the ten-year evolution of the piece. Roadie Len Knox now gets his own number, the witches have their Act Two opener and so on... oh, and the ten-minute mega-medley encore. It's still knowing, musically tight and fun, but not so much that the front-of-house staff didn't physically have to urge the audience onto their feet at curtain-call. Despite the best efforts of a sinister Sooty, it's distinctly lesser than its sister show.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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