Paul Johnson | 02 Jul 2013 08:35am
SHAKESPEARE AT THE GEORGE TRUST PRESENTS – MACBETH
Picture a Jacobean courtyard and stage with a 17th century backdrop of the George Hotel in Huntingdon. A perfect setting for an open-air production of Macbeth… that was until the English summer and a downpour made the stage a no-go area. I only managed a brief glimpse at the impressive raked seating and newly structured Michael Cook stage before SATG’s production was swiftly moved into the local church providing an alternative and, in the circumstances, preferred choice of venue. And so, in true theatrical style, the show thankfully did go on – hurrah! A favourite of mine since studying it at school, Macbeth is brilliantly filled with action, poetry, ghosts, witches and battle. It is also one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays and charts the rise (and fall) of Macbeth – Thane of Glamis, Cawdor and swiftly on to King of Scotland before falling under Macduff’s vengeful sword. Such a rise and fall displays the duality of both man and woman – Macbeth and Lady Macbeth must reconcile good and evil, right and wrong. SATG’s principals executed their roles extremely well with Martin Woodruff wonderful as Macbeth, portraying a wide range of emotions throughout. He perfectly captured Macbeth’s neurosis – a perfect example of which was the ‘feast’ scene with Banquo’s ghost. Macbeth’s fatal sword fight with Macduff was very well executed under some great fight direction from Nick Cole.
Equally up to the challenge, Meg Dixon gave a stellar performance as Lady Macbeth. Riveting to watch from her first appearance Dixon provided a perfect partner-in-crime to Woodruff’s Macbeth. She established herself as cruel, cold and calculating delivering the harsh complexities of the character while moving effortlessly from an ambitious, empowered wife to Lady Macbeth’s vulnerability. The sleepwalking scene was excellent as we saw the decline in Lady Macbeth’s mental state.
I loved the pair’s plotting scenes which demonstrated how well Woodruff and Dixon worked together conveying Macbeth and his wife as lovers, equals and rivals. From the outset the Witches provided a strong and dramatic opening to the show immediately drawing the audience in. The three apparitions were effective and I was relieved to see Director, Richard Brown, avoiding cloaks and pointy hats. I loved the way the witches manipulated and instigated the action …and Macbeth. Well done Steph Hamer, Paula Incledon-Webber and Alex Priestly who mesmerised their audience throughout. The Witches costumes (Jo Fradley & Helen Arnett) and make-up made them quite ethereal, setting the scene and the portent that followed. A refreshing change from black, the white veiled costumes made them look more like apparitions. Pleasingly the level of acting was consistantly strong right across the board. John Shippey gave a lovely portrayal as Banquo as did Simon Maylor respectively as Macduff and Richard Socket as a regal Duncan. Phil Cox provided the expected comic relief as Porter, however, I feel even more humour could have been found from his ‘knock! knock! knock!’ speech without detracting from the more serious drama unfolding around him. SATG’s Director, Richard Brown, enabled the action to flow seamlessly from scene to scene building the tension in Macbeth’s life as it spiraled downwards toward self-destruction. Accompanying music was appropriate and effective and Max Richardson’s lighting was nicely atmospheric. Despite the late change of venue the church certainly possessed a gothic feel and was ultimately very atmospheric. Sitting beneath the stone pillars I could easily imagine I was in the castle.
Good creative use was also made of a small gallery overhanging the stage and provided a lovely place for Banquo’s ghost and others to rise up from – The Witches played their bodrans from here as well.
- : admin
- : 27/06/2013