Macbeth at Studio Theatre, Ashley Road, Salisbury

tx0fxQRmDLzOhiMQAPaUN-E4z63buNzVO3fOl3x24PwTHERE are legends surrounding Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, including the need to refer to it only as “the Scottish play” to avoid its clinging curses.

But at the Studio Theatre in Ashley Road, Salisbury, director Chris Hawley rather hopes it will be a lucky choice.

The excellent amateur company won the 2011 Royal Shakespeare Company’s first ever Open Stages, and performed its production of Hamlet at the RSC’s Swan Theatre in Stratford on Avon … and Macbeth could very well follow in those footsteps.

Part of the 2014 Open Stages project, this new production is a triumph of accessibility, simplicity, power and intelligence.

Anyone who says they can’t understand Shakespeare’s plays should head for the Studio Theatre between now and Saturday 18th October.

The stage has been cleverly adapted for this production, made vast by floor-to-ceiling panels on which backdrops can be projected.

You know exactly where you are with minimal fuss and props.

The soundscape, provided on drums by Lesley Bates (who directed the award-winning Hamlet), and just a soupcon of dry ice, provide all that’s needed, other than the fine acting and stripped-down action.

These Mabeths, Stew Taylor and his wife Rachel Fletcher, don’t start off wicked, just passionate, violent and ambitious. But dangle the promise of greatness in front of them, and wham!, their ambition and determination balloons out of control and poor Scotland is left reeling by the murderous plots and bloody regime of the new king.aNqCqqGNs49g1h_mvaQIjEWavD1pX4tOqcELYxBf_ig

The witches, with their famous “hubble, bubble” curses, are difficult for a modern audience, and most frequently fall into a caricature charade. At Salisbury they are truly chilling, each word of the familiar curses spat out into the eerie mist. And their unexpected appearances underline their perpetual menace.

The production is full of small detail that both illuminates the text and adds intensity to the action.

Members of the youth theatre acquit themselves well in the supporting roles, and the cast is led by Stew Taylor’s haunting Macbeth, giggling bravado masking a terrified determination, Rachel Fletcher’s steely Lady M, James Bradwell’s powerfully convincing Malcolm, Alistair Faulkner’s dangerous Banquo, and Rowena Greenaway, Lorna Matthews Keel and Athena Diamond as the wyrd sisters.

Stanley Morris excelled in the dual role of the wounded Sergeant and the murderous Seyton.

This brilliantly conceived and performed production really shows how the mentoring of the Open Stages project can bring out astonishing depths in amateur performers.



Rehearsal images by Anthony von Roretz

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