There are no scheduled performances of this production.
Gareth Richards - Work with RSC 13/09/2013
Very proud to announce that Arena Theatre have been selected as one of the RSC's participants in their latest Open Stages programme. Our Celtic production of Macbeth will be appearing at the Shelley Theatre in Bournemouth in April 2014, and various venues in Dorset and Hampshire. Very excited, as director, to attend a weekend of workshops at the RSC in Stratford at the end of the month, followed by more workshops for the cast at the Nuffield in Southampton next month. Chuffed!
John Newth - Scene One
OF Shakespeare’s four great tragedies, ‘Macbeth’ is the rawest. There are villains enough in ‘Hamlet’, ‘Othello’ and ‘Lear’, but only ‘Macbeth’ has the intensity to send you reeling from the theatre at the sheer evil it portrays. But it is a latent force that has to be brought out by the acting and direction, and the spellbound audience in the Mowlem was proof that this production had done justice to what in the opinion of many is Shakespeare’s most powerful play. It is a play that has attracted more than its share of gimmicks, but this production largely plays it straight, on a plain but sinister set and in simple but effective costumes. It is with the three witches that director Gareth Richards has taken successful liberties. One example is that Lady Macbeth is on stage for their re-assurance to Macbeth that no man born of woman will harm him; she even speaks some of the lines, which works surprisingly well. Another is that in ‘Is this a dagger’, Macbeth is drawn round the stage by a dagger held by one of the witches; it is less surprising that this works well as it is a difficult speech to stage convincingly. After Banquo is murdered, it is the witches who come and lift him up and escort him off-stage, which is in supernatural keeping with his next appearance as a ghost. We first see Macbeth in all his virile glory, fresh from triumph in battle, and it is violence, anger and the need to be the alpha male that are uppermost in Paul Mole’s interpretation of the part. This is consistent with Macbeth’s ruthlessness – his murder of Macduff’s daughter is genuinely shocking – but Shakespeare wrote a more complex character than that. It was not easy to believe his qualms about murdering Duncan early in the play, and I was intrigued to see how Paul Mole would square his interpretation with ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’. He did the speech full of suppressed anger, which is certainly plausible, but it surely works better as an almost wistful realisation that all his atrocities have ultimately been meaningless. Paul Mole missed the shred of decency that exists somewhere very deep down in the character and which, despite appearances, is not totally destroyed by being ‘in blood stepp’d in so far’. Lady Macbeth has no such redeeming feature. Joanne Owen conveys her pure evil in an outstanding performance. Her ‘unsex me here’ speech is spine-chilling and one can all too easily imagine her plucking her nipple from her baby’s boneless gums and dashing its brains out, but she is equally good later in the play as a sleep-walking wreck. For much of the play, Chris Vessey’s interpretation of Macduff is an interesting doppelganger of Macbeth’s violent virility, which is entirely logical, but he conveys a greater range, as in his genuinely moving reaction to the news of the murder of ‘all his pretty chickens and their dam’. Other performances that caught the eye came from David Weeks (Duncan) and Sean Beaumont (Banquo), both of whom, like Joanne Owen, have a good ear for Shakespearean blank verse, Scott Sullivan as a confident Ross, Tim Wallace-Abbot as a splendidly earthy Porter, Ignatius Harling as First Murderer and Rory Moncaster, who grew in stature as Malcolm. The comparison is not exact, but rather as Broadway shows used to try out in the provinces first, so this Swanage performance was a forerunner of the play’s main run, at the Shelley Theatre in Bournemouth from 3 to 5 April. It is worth putting in your diary now.
Lyn Richell - Dorset Theatre Reviews
I love all Shakespeare plays but Macbeth is one of my favourites, therefore I know it inside out. This production by Director Gareth Richards is one of the blackest that I have seen or been involved with, which is no mean feat given that it is already very dark. Some of the script changes worked well while others did not. The simple setting was just right and the costumes enhanced the production. I particularly liked the witches costumes as they were very different to the ‘normal’ way they are portrayed. Paul Mole as Macbeth did a good job with a difficult part but I would have liked to see more of the man who really had misgivings about murdering Duncan, which was played most ably by David Weeks. The tomorrow and tomorrow speech gave me some misgivings as I did not feel it portrayed the true emotion that Macbeth felt on the death of his wife. There were some notably excellent performances - Sean Beaumont as Banquo, all three witches, Joanna Dunbar, Bethany Harris, and Rachael Cheeseman, Scott Sullivan as Ross and Alanis Gash and Nathan Gash as the children of McDuff. The scene that moved me the most was between Malcolm (Rory Moncaster) and McDuff (Chris Vessey). This was played with all sincerity and the reaction by McDuff on the murder of his children was quite chilling. However the performance of the evening for me was Joanne Owen as Lady Macbeth. It was here that the script and scene changes worked the best and I could believe that she was evil personified. Gareth Richards should be delighted with his cast – they did him proud.