Review – Castle Players 30th Anniversary – Macbeth

What a combination – and in the wonderful setting of Birnam Wood at the back of the Bowes Museum – not with thunder and lightning this year, though that might have been appropriate, but on a clear night with a chorus of Jackdaws adding to the atmosphere.

The Scottish play. Superstition abounds – never name it out loud in a theatre – and it is full of ‘ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night’. A very concentrated play, with few of the philosophical and political excursions that can sometimes intrude on the drama, and one which drives forward at speed with passion and inevitability.

This production, expertly directed by Laurence Sach, cleverly adds to the drama by introducing a group of wraiths, allied to the Weird Sisters – sinister beings that glide around the stage to re-enforce and encourage the progress of Macbeth’s ambition and fall.

The Weird Sisters themselves, including one with sightless eyes, were supremely evil and amazingly believable – they are core not just to the story but to our experience of the play and these three definitely set the tone.

It would be wrong to high-light any one performance in what was, as always, a team production, but it was good to recognise actors from previous performances as well as seeing new faces in the cast, and to enjoy the dynamism with which the leading players drove the plot.

The palisaded set was simple and believable as a background to the different scenes; the costumes and make-up were imaginative and excellent – horrific in the case of much of the latter!

The score, noises off and effects were brilliant – and when my cushions slid through the seating in the interval someone from that department appeared with two very long sticks to use as chopsticks to retrieve them! Another example of the brilliance and ingenuity of Castle Players!

Julia Wright