Macbeth

Date 30th April 2022
Society Hambledon Arts Society
Venue Hambledon Village Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Teresa Encke
Producer Jackie Foster

Report

Author: Mark Donalds

‘Macbeth’ is Hambledon Drama Group’s second foray into the realms of reduced Shakespeare, following their very successful production of ‘Julius Caesar’ back in 2018. Adapter and Director Teresa Encke has once again taken a sharp knife to the standard script and skilfully pared it back to the bare bones, leaving in all the good bits while making it pacey, exciting, and more easily accessible to today’s audiences. Maybe a purist wouldn’t approve, but I do wholeheartedly.

Ingenious use of extra staging on two levels in front of the hall’s stage really brought the action into the audience and gave the play immediacy. It also meant that scene changes were fluid and the action kept rolling along at a good pace. The staging of Duncan’s feast before he was murdered was particularly striking, drawing strong parallels with Da Vinci’s painting of Christ’s Last Supper.

Costumes were excellent, thanks to the hard work of Liz MacKellar and her team, especially the footwear, often a let-down in period pieces. I particularly liked the way the three witches were attired – more widow’s weeds than traditional witch outfits - it made them feel almost ethereal. Good atmospheric lighting and well-chosen sound effects completed the picture.

Teresa has a very experienced and talented group of actors to draw upon in Hambledon and has chosen her cast well. In the lead as Macbeth, James Batchelor confidently brought out all the angst that Macbeth felt as he became a tyrannical leader, responding to all problems with violence and murder but unable to withstand the psychological consequences. Rowenna Gordon impressed too as Lady Macbeth, very much the strong and ambitious wife, tempting her husband to grab power rather than wait. Both can speak Shakespeare’s words clearly and with a natural fluidity and feeling that makes them simple to understand.

The rest of the cast gave them great support, with much doubling up of parts. Stand-out for me was Martyn Kille as Duncan, every inch the virtuous and benevolent ruler, Karen Curren as Lady Macbeth’s timid servant, and the three witches: Jackie Foster, Jacqui Hand and Jo Walker, who portrayed them as wise women, avoiding the stereotyped cackling crones.

The simply presented programme gave lots of interesting background information and helped me understand a lot more about the play than I ever did at school back in 1970 (when the ink was barely dry on the script). Together with the very warm welcome that I always receive from the group, this made for a most enjoyable evening – huge well done to everyone involved.