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Macbeth review at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol – ‘dynamic and imaginative’

Jonathan McGuinness and Aaron Anthony in Macbeth at Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol. Photo: Mark Dawson

Macbeth, with its use of violence as a political tool, is among the more receptive of Shakespeare`s plays to a modern overlay.

Relocated to a 20th century battlefield, this dynamic inaugural production by Tobacco Factory Theatres` new resident professional ensemble, the Factory Company, does this particularly imaginatively.

Director Adele Thomas uses the leanness of the text to examine the quest for power for power`s sake, as if it were a contemporary thriller. She finds a relevant metaphor in the tearing apart of a marriage, not through vaulting ambition but the choice of evil as a deliberate means to a corrupt end.

Jonathan McGuinness` troubled Macbeth is more at home in soldiers` fatigues than as a usurper king. It is clearly Katy Stephens`s stunning Lady Macbeth who is the mover and shaker for their murderous deeds.

Kevin McCurdy`s rough-and-tumble fight direction adds to the atmosphere of violence, and there is a compellingly fresh approach to the three witches, garbed in ethereal white robes, carrying an illuminated obelisk and chanting in Gaelic.

Aaron Anthony is a strong Banquo in both human and ghostly guises, Joseph Tweedale an upright Macduff, and Cait Davis a philosophising drunken porter. But for all the gripping delivery of the text, Matthew Graham`s staccato strobe lighting plot and Max Pappenheim`s echo chamber music and sound come close to snatching the limelight.


An imaginative, often riveting, inaugural production for Bristol’s new repertory company theatre

Production Information

Tobacco Factory Theatres
February 22, 2018
April 7, 2018
Press night
February 27, 2018
William Shakespeare
Adele Thomas
Anisha Fields
Matthew Graham
Max Pappenheim
Kevin McCurdy (fight director)
Stage manager
Amy Wildgoose
Production manager
Nic Prior
Cast includes
Jonathan McGuinness, Katy Stephens, Aaron Anthony, Joseph Tweedale, Jack Riddiford, Cait Davis
The Factory Company
Running time
2hrs 45mins