One of my favourite moments came in Act 4, scene 2, when Murderer 1 – played brilliantly by Arya Barlow (who will, I hope, have a starring role in a future production; she’s certainly got an abundance of talent) – said to Macduff’s doomed son, ‘What, you egg? Young fry of treachery!’ before dispatching him to the Great Yonder.
The following minutes, during which little one (played so well by Phoebe Holder) tried to wake his murdered mother, were among the most poignant in the production, and made me well up when first I saw it.
There was much to admire in this production. ‘Macbeth’ is a demanding, and in many ways difficult, play, and for a group of relatively youthful actors, and a new group to boot, to take on this challenge was impressive, to say the least.
The eponymous lead was played, with great confidence and panache, by Stephen Cole and he and his wife, Sandra Cole, who played Lady Macbeth, worked extremely well and effectively together. Who could forget the moments when she leads him, with a slight pressure of finger on chin, to his conscience’s demise?Who, indeed, could forget Sandra’s excellent portrayal of the troubled Lady in extremis, or her harrowing screams as death finally claimed her?
Sandra and Krissy Elliott, as witches, provided great variety and contrast: The one, clad in sumptuous red velvet, and with lovely dark hair loose like a cloak; the other garbed in scarlet, festooned with jewels and a splendidly rich and scary source of Macbeth’s apparations. Their cauldron scene was wonderfully atmospheric – and I am sure one or two audience members covertly gave way to a kit-inspection to make sure they still had all their bits after the spell had been wound up!
Lysah Hughesman, as Hecate, was decidedly sinister and ominous, exuding a quiet menace which, I am sure, had the witches checking their recent list of misdeeds with anxious eyes!
B.M. Crowley, in his role as Macduff, was superb. He managed to hold his Scottish accent throughout, was powerful and masterful as a stage presence – and, I felt, showed the range of Macduff’s emotions very well. His lament, upon receiving the news of the murder of, ‘…all my pretty chickens and their dam in one fell swoop?’ was heartrending and his bellow of angry despair, in ‘I shall do so: But I must also feel it as a man!’ was one of the most powerful moments in the play.
The use of real tree branches for the Birnam Wood scene was excellent, and, along with the blowing of the horn, very evocative. When the soldiers marched in from the back of the hall, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.
I very much liked the use of colours in this version of the play: White for good, black for bad and red for those who were neither one nor t’other. It was very clever the way characters gradually added an item of darkness to their originally light attire.
Ross Bambrey, as Banquo, was most impressive, and his death scene beautifully choreographed and very disturbing to watch. As the ghost, he was truly creepy, the red cloak adding a macabre element to the secne.
Ross, a trained stuntman (among many other talents), was responsible for all the fighting scenes in the play – and their brilliant smoothness and verisimilitude pays tribute to his skill.
Ronan Crowley (no relation!) was wonderful as the elided Lord Rangus, and genuinely scary as Murderer 2. Ronan has an excellent stage presence, a great clear speaking voice and a real talent for altering his characters by clever and subtle use of body language.
Jon Coyne, who played Malcolm, was extremely impressive too. His interactions with Macduff were particularly well done and, as one of the only unambiguously good characters, his white clothing, and aura, made him stand out.
Kaiden Blakely, as the Drunken Porter, was hilarious – and his costume absolutely splendid!
Barry Koppe was wonderfully regal as King Duncan – and made a terrific (and inadvertently very funny) Old Man in the grey head and facial forestation!
Other lords – played by Christopher Markwick-Staff, Rhiannon Mayatt (who also played Donalbain) and Francis Oliver – added their acting expertise to the whole most satisfactorily.
Finally, I cannot leave the acting side without mentioning the wonderful Sebastian Elliott-Foster who made his stage debut as Seyton, and who, by the end of the show, knew everyone’s lines (or so I am reliably informed).
Backstage crew and helpers – Jemm Bolton, Steve, Maureen Scott and John Moore – were greatly appreciated.
Brad (B.M.Crowley) directed with enormous patience, kindness, firmness and vision.
All in all, a very good, if dark, night’s entertainment – and a fine showcase for some of Glastonbury’s thespian talent!
NB: I will add more recent photos as and when I can get hold of them!