Macbeth by William Shakespeare. The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. On tour. 4****. William Russell

The Scottish play has been given a splendid forceful production by this all male company which they are now taking on tour round the country. You can google the dates on their website. I saw it in the grounds of Chiswick House on a sunny if chilly night and it was quite simply gripping. Maybe the sun shone – Macbeth makes one thing of dark deeds and witches on blasted heaths and getting away with it in sunshine is no mean feat, but they do. The cast of seven double and treble roles with only Macbeth, a stirring and forceful Ronnie Yorke, escaping the chore of having to know who he is at any one time – he only has to play one other small part.
But it is to the entire cast’s credit that the multiple role playing never became confusing. The most striking thing, however, was how well they all spoke. The words came across loud and clear, which given there is no back wall to bounce off is an achievement in itself. Even with sound designers that often does not happen in conventional theatres. Shakespeare is all about words – the language needs to be heard if one is to grasp what is going on – and they were spoken beautifully. Their voice coach Jacqui Crago has done a fine job.
The play is performed on an intriguing set, several platform layers and entrances and exits looking vaguely like some sort of bunker or coastal defence building designed by Morgan Bird who also did the costumes. Everything is functional, designed to be taken down and moved to the next location – moments after their last “curtain” call they were hard at it.
At a time when the future of theatre is much debated here was one way theatre can continue even if at the mercy of the weather. The audience had brought their stools and garden chairs, their refreshments, and thus fortified enjoyed the show which plays without an interval. I have seen some fine, some terrible productions of the Scottish play – this ranks high in the list.

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Harry Clarke: Ross, Seyton.
Michael Faulkner: Malcolm, Weird Sister, Murderer.
Samuel Lane: Banquo, Menteith, Gentleman.
Maximilen Marston: macduff, Weird Sister.
Laurie Scott: Duncan, Porter, Lennox, Doctor.
Rhys Warrington: Lady Macbeth, Weird Sister, Siward.
Ronnie Yorke: Macbeth, Sergeant.

Director: Peter Stickney.
Set & Costumes: Morgan Bird,
Musical Director. Alex Beetschen.
Costume design: Polly Laurence.
Voice Coach: Jacquie Crago.

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