The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
March 27, 28, 29, & 30 2019
by William Shakespeare
Guy Steddon – Macbeth
Jacqueline Harper – Lady Macbeth
Phil Nair – Brown – Macduff
Emily Hale – Witch
Nettie Sheridan – Witch
Katie Hunwick – Witch
John Garland – Banquo
Peter Thompson – Duncan
Kane Magee – Malcolm
David Aitchison – Donalbain
Sam Razavi – Lennox
Dan Dryer – Ross
David Aitchison – Menteith
Elliot Robinson – Angus
Katie Hunwick – Lady Macduff
Giles Newlyn–Bowmer – Fleance
Peter Thompson – Seyton
Derek Fraser – Doctor
Claire Coull – Gentlewoman
John Garland – Siward
Elliot Robinson – young Siward
Andrew Wesby – Sergeant/Captain
David Aitchison – Murderer
Elliot Robinson – Murderer
Andrew Wesby – Murderer
Derek Fraser – Wise old man
Giles Newlyn–Bowmer – Servant
Peter Joyce – Servant
Andrew Wesby – Porter
Programme Note #1: Macbeth
SC writes : Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays: the tale of the brave Scottish General taken over by ambition and lust for power after receiving a supernatural prophecy, with not an insignificant push from his wife, is compelling, intriguing and enthralling. This play is about how those who have unchecked rule and lust for power can destroy everyone and everything in their path: including the ones they say they love. The those themes are current for all ages.
I fell in love with the play when I studied it at school. I have always had a strong vision for it, I wanted to create the most authentic version possible; and I knew I would have had to cast the strongest actors and work with the best backstage team to bring it to life.
I am hugely grateful to Wick Theatre Company: the Production Team have been absolutely amazing and my cast – I am so honoured to work with such amazing talented actors who have exceeded all my expectations.
Rehearsals have been intense, exhausting, inspiring and sometimes we;ve roared with laughter. I appluad them all, my fearless troup and I hope that you, the audience, enjoy the show.
Programme Note #2: Macbeth
The Real Macbeth : Macbeth was a real King of Scotland in the 11th Century, hence the Medieval setting of this play. His 17 year reign was mostly peaceful. Although some of the people did exist:Duncan, Malcol and Macduff for example; Shakespeare based his version on historical accoounts at the time that were inaccurate. It’s no accident that he wrote this play between 1603 – 1606, and King James 1 [King James 6 of Scotland] came to the throne i 1603, after Elizabeth 1, who ordered the execution of James’ mother: Mary Queen of Scots. King James also believedthat he was descended from Banquo.
Shakespeare was clearly politically astute to write of the power of roylaty, and to question a Queen that prioritises ambition and strength, which were seen as unfeminine traits at the time.
Review #1: Macbeth
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: April 4 2018 issue – page 25
Reviewer: Elaine Hammond
Text Header: Macbeth performed in the round, adding to intensity
Macbeth has been done in so many ways and set in so many different time frames, it is almost a treat to see a traditional production – and that is exactly what Wick Theatre Company gives us at the Barn Theatre in Southwick last week.
Treat it is, indeed, with a strong cast and an award-winning director carrying a strong vision for a play she fell in love with at school. Susanne Crosby plays it straight, making it as authentic as possible, and gives us an intimate production, set in the round, so we really feel part of the action.
Macbeth is a play that is full of action, with fight scenes, confrontations and a ghost, but is also a very wordy play and it is impressive to hear the entire cast speaking the Shakespearean language so naturally.
The witches’ entrance is unexpected, being wrapped around the centrl cauldron like rocks, so right from the start, the audience is drawn in. The trio’s powerful delivery was mesmerising, Emily Hale, Katie Hunwick and Nettie Sheridan were strong throughout and keeping them younger, rather than turning them into old hags, somehow adds more menace.
Guy Steddon gave a measured portrayal of Macbeth, really demonstrating the changing relationship with Lady Macbeth. My only thought was whether he was tortured enough as the play went on. Guy made Macbeth quietly evil but perhaps not as affected by his deeds as he might have been. Jacqueline Harper shows both the strength and madness of Lady Macbeth and the pair work well together.
There is a lot of pressure performing such an intense play in so intimate a setting, with the audience just inches away. Facial expressions become even more important, as every twitch is noticed, and in this Jacqueline exceled.
Being in the round also meant every word was picked out, the audience was so focused, but the one downside was it meant a fair bit of spinning around in a bid to ensure each side has a good view. From my viewpoint, it meant I missed seeing Macbeth’s face when he was told the news of the Thane of Cawdor, the first sign the witches may be right, and that was a shame.
The wardrobe team of Maggi Pierce and Cherry Fraser deserve a mention for their stellar work on the large number of costumes and the level of detail.
The whole work is an intense production with some strong performances.
Review #2: Macbeth
Publication Data: March 28 2019 – https://broadwaybaby.com/shows/macbeth/740855
Reviewer: Beth Watson
Rating: Three Stars
A play about murder, greed and unchecked rule, MacBeth is a play that never loses relevance. And, in a time when despotism seems to once again be on the rise, it is a fitting choice as well as a captivating one. Susanne Crosby’s take on Shakespeare’s gruesome tragedy came alive in the Barn Theatre, where a stripped back venue was transformed into medieval Scotland.
Susanne Crosby’s take on Shakespeare’s gruesome tragedy came alive in the Barn Theatre.
Lighting, executed by Martin Oakley, helped to create atmosphere in the theatre-cum-community centre, turning crimson at the appearance of Lady Macbeth and bathing Banquo’s ghost in an eerie grey spotlight. Similarly haunting was the performance by the three witches (played by Emily Hale, Katie Hunwick and Nettie Sheridan) who magically emerged from under blankets when the lights came up and wandered terrifyingly among the audience during the interval. But, although the witches made a fearsome trio together, individually their exaggerated witchy voices felt slightly less convincing.
The real highlights of the production came from stand out performances from Guy Steddon (Macbeth) and Jacqueline Harper (Lady Macbeth) who displayed captivating chemistry and successfully portrayed the couple’s unravelling into madness. Though, for a woman-directed show, I would have liked to see Harper given a bit more prominence. Equally strong was Phil Nair-Brown’s portrayal of Macduff, but it was a shame that some of the secondary characters seemed to lack experience. Given that one of the joys of Shakespeare is the word play, it was disappointing that, at times, poor delivery meant this was sometimes lost on the audience.
Director Susanne Crosby fell in love with Macbeth during her school years and her commitment to an authentic Macbeth was clear throughout. But, for one of Shakespeare’s darkest and spookiest plays, more could have been done to maintain the audience’s attention over the two and a half hour performance. The theatre was peppered with teenagers hoping to see Shakespeare come alive but, unfortunately, this highly traditional performance fell a bit flat with this part of the audience. While it’s true that 16 year olds are notoriously difficult to please, I was inclined to agree with them that the production lacked a bit of excitement.
Crosby’s sell-out show will be playing at the Barn Theatre until the 30th March.
Review #3: Macbeth
Publication: The Argus
Publication Data: April 1 2019 issue – page 38
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
Rating: Four Stars
WICK Theatre Company and director Susanne Crosby must be thanked for mounting a traditional production of the Scottish Play.
No gimmicks, no modern dress just the magic of the words.
The plot tells of the rise and fall of a great soldier, driven and ultimately destroyed by ambition egged on by his cold-blooded wife. Guy Steddon’s performance as Macbeth was impressive, descending from smiling affability to ruthless tyrant. Behind the smile the hint of mania developed into full-blown madness.
Jacqueline Harper skilfully portrayed the decline of Lady Macbeth from sanguineness, through guilty conscience to suicidal dementia.
Among the many fine performances those of John Garland, Dan Dryer and Phil Nair-Brown stood out, as did those of Emily Hale, Katie Hunwick and Nettie Sheridan, the Weird Sisters.
The ever-changing coloured lighting did not always work. At times it seemed as though the action had moved into a disco.
Review #4: Macbeth
Publication Data: April 4 2019
Reviewer: Mark Hall
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known scripts and often considered something of a taboo within the world of theatre. The main theme centres around destruction from ambition.
Director Susanne Crosby achieves a childhood ambition of bringing her favourite piece of Shakespeare to life whilst successfully avoiding any destruction.
The Barn Theatre is a delightful venue, one I am very familiar with having been both on and off stage numerous times over the last decade. It lends an “old” feeling to a play like Macbeth which is very fitting.
Performed in the round, the stage is sparsely populated with the only real set being the witches pot and a tree in one “corner”. There is always a danger performing in the round that the actors fail to engage with the audience on all sides. Inevitably, there were parts which I missed however, Susanne’s clever direction ensured this was kept to a minimum. For me, the most distracting part was the lack of wings and seeing the actors creep down the sides of the audience from the corner of my eye. Because of the proximity to the audience, no microphones were used (which negated any sound problems) and credit should be given to the whole cast who delivered lines with clear diction and at a good volume.
The lighting was simple, perhaps a little too so, with subtle changes in hues depending on the mood and characters on stage. I felt the lighting could have been focussed more on the stage as the audience were lit for the most part, again occasionally distracting from the performance.
The costumes were excellently done (apart from a rogue pair of Nike trainers) and the wardrobe team should be commended.
The scene changes, carried out by the actors, were swift. These were covered in recorded music which sounded a little too modern for the traditional setting. There were a couple of times a piece was played which seemed to very closely resemble the theme tune of current superhero franchise.
The play, which is written in five acts, carried a good pace throughout with the dialogue delivered clearly and concisely. It is commendable that the deliverance of Shakespeare’s language felt as fluent as modern-day language. Despite the excellent pace, at over 90 minutes long until the interval, the first “half” did feel a tad long.
There were strong performances from all the cast. Guy Steddon, as the titular character, gave an assured and measured performance, John Garland deeply impressed as Banquo, Kane Magee as Malcom and Sam Razavi as Lennox were confident and engaging, David Aitchison showed an excellent range by portraying Donalbain, Menteith and a Murderer, each with a distinct different persona, and finally, the witches. Katie Hunwick, Nettie Sheridan and Emily Hale’s portrayal was haunting. Their entrance, which drew gasps from the audience, really sent shivers down my spine. The chemistry between them was intense and reciting chants and spells, back to back, in perfect synchronicity was testament to the talent these three actresses clearly ooze in abundance.
For me, there were three stand out performances. Phil Nair-Brown’s portrayal of Macduff was superb. Dan Dryer commanded the stage whenever he appeared. His tone and inflection particularly impressed and I found myself watching him even when he was not speaking. Finally, Jacqueline Harper as Lady Macbeth was incredible. I would run out of superlatives trying to praise her performance which contained true depth and emotion. From her darker side to her final breakdown, she showed a magnificence in every facet of character.
Being exceptionally nit-picky, there were a few things which caught my eye; King Duncan did not seem to have the regal air one would expect of a Shakespearian king, Banquo could have been “bloodied” for his reappearance as a ghost, the deliverance of the news Lady Macbeth had died seemed emotionless as did Fleance seeing his father killed, the sword fights felt a little too choreographed and could have been more epic, Macbeth was still clearly breathing after his death.
All in all, the production was well executed, slick and enjoyable. I left with a deep appreciation for Shakespeare’s genius, but also for the sheer hard work and dedication which had been evidently poured into the production.