Directed by Imogen de la Bere, Adam Nichols and Janet Podd
14th - 23rd July 2011
OVO @ Pudding Lane, St Albans
26th - 28th August 2011
St Paul's Walden Bury
Macbeth stripped bare
A pitiless examination of the evil that lurks inside us all.
Set right now, somewhere in Europe, where warlords carry mobile phones and witches wear jeans.
We have thrown away the kilts and the swords. We have dispensed with the guns and the battlements. You will encounter Macbeth raw and unadulterated.
This new production of Shakespeare's greatest masterpiece is presented in an intimate studio production at Pudding Lane, and a spectacular open air promenade production in the stunning surroundings of St Paul's Walden Bury.
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Macbeth returns for OVO
21st July 2011
SIX years ago, as I was reminded at OVO’s Pudding Lane, St Albans, theatre on Saturday, I was critical of a production of Macbeth set in a post-apocalyptic future. I felt that OVO was stretching credibility too far to move Shakespeare’s Scottish play with its emphasis on the superstition and portents rife at the time of its writing to a Mad Max world.
So I am delighted to say that OVO has not fallen into the same trap with its current production of Macbeth which, while set in modern times, is far more consistent than its predecessor and incorporates Shakespeare’s finest scenes and speeches without jarring.
It means a lot of use of mobile phones – but actually rather effectively – and adopts the extremely effective device of transforming the witches into four lovely young women whose influence is felt throughout the play.
Their importance to the OVO version of the play is, to all intents and purposes, far greater than Shakespeare intended but their presence in the midst of the action is seamless and effective.
And while it is nothing new to paint the witches as an all-pervading influence over everything which occurs in Macbeth, to dress them in black leotards and leggings and use dance movement and evocative music to define their role is innovative.
Six years on, David Widdowson again plays Macbeth and is as confident in the role as he was then. I was at first a bit doubtful about Alison Wright’s Lady Macbeth because she seemed altogether too sweet for a woman who could turn so quickly into a hard-hearted murderess. But as the play goes on, she captures the madness into which Lady Macbeth falls very believably.
The idea of having a blind King Duncan - played by the ever-reliable Dewi Williams – is a good one because it makes his callous murder by Macbeth even more poignant. And I particularly liked Trever D. Oakes – another accomplished local actor – as Banquo.
The spectral scene where he haunts Macbeth at the banquet was every bit as eerie as it should be and a high point in the production.
The only character who did not really work for me was Linda Bagaini’s porter because, in an effort to make Shakespeare’s notoriously difficult comedy scenes funny, OVO tried too hard and the scene was completely out of context and more suited to pantomime.
Having said that, the audience seemed to enjoy Linda’s take on a porter cum cleaning woman, maybe for the very reason I am criticising it – because it introduced froth and superficiality into the middle of such a dark play.
Imogen de la Bere directs the production at Pudding Lane and uses the limited space and restricted acting area extremely well.
14th July 2011
Macbeth by William Shakespeare has been done over a million times across the world and who can forget the Ian McKellen and Judi Dench portrayals in 1976. In fact I saw a recent and wonderful production in London a few years ago with the fantastic Patrick Stewart and so I was looking forward to this. The production highlights everything OVO stands for in creating innovative, imaginative and inspiring theatre!
Set in the 21st Century, Macbeth has all the elements which you can expect from this classic, but with an addition of iPhones, motor cyclists and a house speaker system. The only thing missing I suppose is CCTV and a Kindle, but perhaps that could be for another show! OVO thoroughly commits to ensure that the continuity of the setting is accurate and the research shows.
A shaky start from some of the cast at the beginning but when it got into the swing of things, I was transfixed.
The witches, although a variety of ages, connected well together and brought a strong physicality to the role. A sinister and yet sultry delivery meant at times I was completely drawn to them while the main action was going on.
A strong ensemble is always important and OVO pulled off some great casting. Macbeth played by David Widdowson was out of this world! He had such presence, strength and a vulnerability which was breathtaking to watch. David had great chemistry with Lady Macbeth, Alison Wright. A tricky part to play, Alison delivered this role to perfection, a spell bound performance in manipulating Macbeth and changing personality and intention with believable ease.
One of the highlights is the Porter, played by Linda Bagaini. A funny, interactive interpretation was thoroughly entertaining! It lifts the heavy text and when Linda was on stage, I felt like anything could happen!
I felt that there the text could have been shaken up more, allowing the piece to become more accessible within the era of which it was set. Not changing some of the traditional Shakespearean text takes away from the massive adjustment of the setting which is completely original.
A thoroughly entertaining night!
Linda Bagaini - Porter, Apparition (Pudding Lane)
David Berryman - Duncan (The Bury)
Lucy Crick - Witch/Murderer
Craig Duncombe - Donalbain
Izzy Emery - Witch/Murderer (Pudding Lane)
Jo Emery - Witch/Seyton
Tim Eridani-Ball - Apparition (Pudding Lane)
Rob Ferguson - Malcolm
Peter Ford - Apparition (Pudding Lane)
Anna Fordham - Witch / Messenger
Anna Franklin - Lady Macduff
Will Franklin - Lennox (The Bury)
Conor Moore - Fleance
Trevor D. Oakes - Banquo
James Pitchford - Angus
Angharad Pugh-Jones - Witch/Murderer (The Bury)
Philip Roe - Old Man, Siward
Lucas Russell - Young Macduff (Pudding Lane)
Rebecca Russell - Doctor (Pudding Lane)
Tim Siddall - Lennox (Pudding Lane)
Edmund White - Ross
David Widdowson - Macbeth
Eleanor Widdowson - Young Macduff (The Bury)
Liz Widdowson - Doctor (The Bury)
Dewi Williams - Duncan (Pudding Lane)
Veronica Williamson - Attendant (The Bury)
Peter Wood - Macduff
Alison Wright - Lady Macbeth
Adam Bottomley - Lighting and Sound Operator (Pudding Lane)
Paula Chitty - Designer (Pudding Lane)
Janice Cole - Sound Designer (Pudding Lane)
Imogen de la Bere - Director (Pudding Lane)
Amy Farmer - Assistant Stage Manager (The Bury)
Rick Fears - Lighting Designer and Operator (The Bury)
Karen Harding - Sound Assistant
Tiggi Harding - Graphic Artist
Tim Hayward - Lighting Designer (Pudding Lane)
Brian Hughes - Sound Designer and Operator (The Bury)
Wendy Ibbison - Production Assistant (Pudding Lane)
Kate Kellner - Producer (The Bury), Stage Manager
Yael Loewenstein - Fight Arranger
Clare Myerscough - Lighting and Sound Operator (Pudding Lane)
Adam Nichols - Director (The Bury), Graphic Designer
Paride Odierna - Film Director (Pudding Lane)
James Pitchford - Musical Director and Composer
Janet Podd - Movement Director
Liz Widdowson - Publicity Co-ordinator (The Bury)
Jim Withey - Technical Manager (The Bury)
Peter Wood - Set Construction