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Sexy Witches and Menacing Magic: Macbeth

Macbeth at The Loft Theatre. Photo © Richard Smith

Macbeth by William Shakespeare, The Loft, Leamington Spa, running until 4 November 2023.

Review by Ann Cee.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a dark morality tale of how the menacing become the menaced and how the mind can be tempted then tortured by avarice and ambition. The Loft’s current production of Macbeth’s journey into hell is elegantly directed by David Fletcher and beautifully delivered by a tremendous cast of twenty.

Despite the play’s familiarity, this production is full of originality and detail that come together in a coherent package that has punch, mystery and novelty. The three witches offered a sexy sisterhood of powerful women in complete mastery of their insidious, magical charms which seemed to seep into every corner of the narrative (Joanna Stevely, Cheryl Laverick and Helen Dodds).

Lady Macbeth (Julie Godfrey). Photo © Richard Smith

Macbeth (Mark Crossley) and Lady Macbeth (Julie Godfrey) simmer with passion individually and as an intense married couple at the top echelons of society, and descend into their own personal hells of bitter regret and hallucination, their haunted minds impinging on their real lives. Banquo (Christopher Bird) maintains a steadfast adherence to calm, diplomatic shrewdness even in his virtual form and Malcolm (Charlie Longman) emerges as the leader of substance and unity. There’s also a fantastic comedic interlude with the porter and their huge keys (Elaine Freeborn).

The Porter (Elaine Freeborn). Photo © Richard Smith

None of this is easy to portray convincingly and the ensemble did it all beautifully. Thoughtful details in the set/props (Amy Carroll), lighting (Dave Barclay) and staging (Allen-Bowden and Brown) gave the show its overall tone, with fabulous intrigue provided by the chest pouches, spooky lights and the bloody thumb print. Extremely good use of every corner of the stage and auditorium giving a lively immersive experience.

A cracking show with well-placed confidence in its story telling strengths and its ability to leave a lasting impression on the audience without having to resort to gratuitous violence or shocking visual gore.


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