While the medieval Temple Church is associated with Magna Carta and filled with effigies of Knights Templar, it is the domestic elements of the tragedy of Macbeth that come to the fore in this staging by Ben Horslen and John Risebero.
The production is dressed in late-Victorian/Edwardian costume associated with the upstairs-downstairs genre of drama and hinting at domestic horror and ‘supernatural soliciting’ underneath a façade of controlled gentility. The three witches (Louise Templeton, Bryony Tebbutt and Robyn Holdaway, all excellent) are housemaids embodying evil forces within the home with their impassive, downcast eyes and moments snatched together over a cauldron of laundry.
Within this dysfunctional household, Harry Anton’s Macbeth is a warrior rather than a gentleman, gradually desensitised from feeling fear. The star turn is Helen Millar’s thoroughly chilling and witchy Lady Macbeth who is like a mannequin jolted into life with ambition. Peter Collis is an affable Banquo, Robert Bradley a slippery Ross, and Chris Courtenay a very Edwardian Duncan, who also makes the Porter an unusually ominous figure.
A bare catwalk-like stage with pews on either side is unforgiving if clumsily handled but is neatly employed here by the directors (with some inevitable neckache for the audience when activity takes place on opposite ends) and the fight scenes take place in very close proximity to the audience indeed.
The lighting is a delight, particularly in the way in creates tableaus of Lady Macbeth and the witches, and the ecclesiastical acoustics circulate robustly within this ancient building with its many layers of history.