Monday, 1 September 2014

Macbeth. Creation Theatre. 1st August -13th September 2014, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

From the outset, it should be made clear that Creation Theatre’s Macbeth, adapted and directed by Jonathan Holloway, is not a ‘literal rendering’ of the text. In the programme notes, it specifically states that the production ‘re-imagines the play’ and crosses the line ‘between reality and imagination’.

The ‘stage’ is Lady Margaret Hall and its grounds. It is without doubt a striking backdrop. On the other hand, it occasionally overwhelmed. As such a large ‘space’, it took a while to concentrate the senses.

From my position, as a guest at the banquet, with other audience members, I found myself looking centre stage, towards the sound, only to turn right and see Laura Murray’s Lady Macbeth at a first floor window of the college. It was quite unsettling at first.

Nevertheless, as dusk fell, this no longer became an issue as the lighting directed us to the action. It achieved the sinister and ghostly elements that were lacking in the earlier scenes. With the production running until September, and the nights closing in, future audiences will be amply rewarded.

If there is to be a ‘star’ of the show, it has to be Ashley Bale’s seductive and ethereal lighting design. It both intensified and complemented the drama, sometimes touching, sometimes disturbing.

Finally, if you are going, do not expect to see ‘weird sisters, hand in hand’, cackling over a bubbling cauldron but something more theatrically and creatively inspired and more importantly, accessible. To some it may be disquieting, to others, exciting and innovative. 

This review was first published on The Flaneur website.