Staged in the round, with abstract black wooden structures behind the audience providing support for various elements of the production, Sarah Bacon’s design is simple but highly effective. Costumes are of the period, all hessian, chainmail and buckles. Good use is also made of what is in effect a proscenium arch at one end of the church and a gallery at the other. Caroline Devlin takes a pacy but classical approach to the play. Matt Eaton’s sound – helped by the wonderful acousitics in this 250-year-old building – and music, enhances the experience, as does Declan Randall’s lighting, all whites and reds. The company delivers the text with clarity and moves around the stage in almost balletic style.
Tom McGovern is a ruggedly handsome and very Scottish Macbeth. He and Johanne Murdock as a chilling Lady Macbeth brilliantly convey the complex relationship between the two with all its power shifts. McGovern sometimes has the air of a naughty schoolboy, but soon he’s bragging about being invincible. Robert Maskell gives us not only an elderly Duncan, but also a hilarious Porter. Noel White is Banquo, and his reappearance as Banquo’s ghost, head covered in gore, is particularly powerful.
The ‘something wicked this way comes’ witches scene is a superb piece of stagecraft, the atmosphere created by movement, lighting, sound and of course, the text, neatly setting up Macbeth for his fall. And the collective gasp from the audience as young Macduff is killed evidences the awesome power of this production.