• Macbeth


Production Information

Saturday 21 October 1989 to Saturday 28 October 1989 (8 performances)
at Hampton Court Theatre, Hampton Court House, Surrey, United Kingdom

by William Shakespeare

Review by John Thaxter for Richmond and Twickenham Times (October 1989)

If you think the words are more important than the images, you will be disappointed by the Youth Action Theatre production of Macbeth, all this week at Hampton Court Theatre.

Delivered in a subdued monotone, both narrative text and sublime poetry are treated with equal lack of passion. Occasional moments of energy are reserved for screams, shouts and imprecations: not that there are many of them in the first half.

The murder of Duncan (an heroic figure in Rick de Kerckhove's performance), followed by that of his stewards, seems to generate little more vocal emotion than if the Dunsinane dahlias had been cut down by an early frost.

Images are all, and fine images they prove to be in Eleanor Baker's arresting design of Celtic costumes and jagged horizontals of paint and gauze; with the weird sisters dancing attendance through every scene of the play like playful night-club hostesses or silent, reclining witnesses.

These 'secret, black and midnight hags' (Janice Deller, Sophie Wilson and Christine Osborne) are dainty damsels, with gestures reminiscent of York House fountain statuary, at first dressed in Orphelia drapes but dangerously shedding much of their costumes during the interval.

Director David Lewsey makes constant and imaginative use of the witch imagery: the shadow of a witch with arms outstretched, represents the illusory dagger that David Wheatley's muscular Macbeth tries to seize; they add a cosy eroticism to Lynn Howes' "unsex me" scene as Lady Macbeth: and at the brilliantly choreographed baquet they represent the invisible Banquo.

Best of all, Macbeth's final 'pricking thumb' encounter is the bedside nightmare which thanks to the apparently limitless YAT acting resources (with almost no doubling up by the 35 strong cast), is for once peopled by eight young actors, briefly dressed as Banquo's kingly progeny; plus Banquo himself (Chris Ivey) with a deeply-scarred back to the audience.

Martin Freeman as Malcolm, saviour and future scourge of Scotland. Good vocal work comes from David Hannigan as MacDuff, Giles Porter's Scottish doctor, and Jonathan Wheatley's glum porter. And also finally from David Wheatley's Macbeth, whose blood-stained torso lit by an overhead spotlight becomes the production's lasting and most vivid image.


Role Name


Role Name
DIRECTORDavid Lewsey