This was the night of the first of this summer’s Blackwell excursions to Creation Theatre’s outdoor theatre. And what a night for it, hot and sunny, and just the kind of evening to be in the parks, amongst the trees, and the birds, and latterly the bats. I hadn’t been going to go originally, after last years all male Macbeth – but then I got offered a pair of free tickets to the VIP/Press night which was also tonight. So whilst the work plebs (sic.) slummed it in the cheap seats, I supped free wine and ate strawberries in the VIP enclosure. (note: there isn’t actually that much difference between seats!).
Being a tragedy there was less use of magic in the play tonight, although it was still magical, and they obviously felt that they couldn’t find an excuse to use their trademark stilts in this play. The setting was more intimate, centred around a wooden platform and stairs wrapped around a large horse chestnut tree, with the remaining ‘stage’ staked out with roughly hewn wooden posts, some adorned with the skulls of fallen enemies. Across the front of the platform was a shallow trough of water that served both as witches cauldron and pool/river for drowning the baby Macduff. Around this the stage and actors were dressed in skins and tunics and cloth, all adding to the atmosphere and the setting of the play.
Macbeth himself was commanding from the very start, dark haired, and intense with the gaze. Lady Macbeth (Cordelia from Creation’s King Lear earlier in the year) was similarly commanding and hauntingly bewitching, if a little young in my view for the part. The fight scenes, of which there were many, were exciting, and realistically choreographed. If I were to have any gripe with this production it would be that the three witches could have been done better. I’ve seen Creation do magic, so more magic from the outset from these three old hags of the wilderness. The second scene of prophecies where Macbeth is told that he will never be vanquished until Birnham Wood moves to Dunsinane, or that no man of woman born shall harm him, was more magical with the taking of the potion well conceived, however in general I have seen them done better. Most notably last year by Oxford Shakespear Company, and a few years back by the Bold & Saucy Theatre Company.
Nonetheless, an excellent, exciting production, and a perfect way to spend a summer evening…