THE DECISION to stage Shakespeare’s Macbeth at St John’s Church on Friday 13 was a masterstroke.
Whilst the venue’s historic surroundings provided the perfect backdrop, the stage and the pews occupied by the 80-strong audience gave an intimate area where the action took place.
And it led to a seamless performance by The Festival Players who relished acting in such grand surroundings.
You will seldom see such an energetic and fast-paced portrayal of one of The Bard’s finest plays – the chemistry between the characters and the interaction was simply breathtaking.
The way the company chose its roles was true to how it would have been in the 1600s.
It was an all-male cast with some actors playing multiple roles – and when they did that, they put in equal amounts of energy and emotion into each part they played.
Matthew Springett was as inspiring a Macbeth as you will ever see as he conveyed the rollercoaster of emotions bestowed upon the character.
Several actors showed unbelievable versatility playing numerous roles, including Joel Daffurn who performed as a witch, a sergeant and, his best character, Macduff.
But Christopher Finn was the most impressive multi-tasker as he excelled as Lady Macbeth and also put in sound portrayals as one of the witches, Ross and Siward’s son.
Among the highlights in this truly amazing performance were the scene where MacDuff was told his wife and children had been slaughtered, when Lady Macbeth gave her emotive speech whilst sleepwalking and when Macbeth was informed of the death of his wife.
But probably the best action came at the banquet where Macbeth was haunted by the visions of Banquo and, later, the animated sword fight between Macbeth and Macduff, leading to the former’s demise.
To stage what The Festival Players produced with just seven actors was a feat you would struggle to see matched anywhere else.
The time of year was also key to the fantastic entertainment – the first act began in the bright light of a summer evening and the nightfall that encroached through the stained-glass windows added much-needed ambiance as the plot became darker and Macbeth’s predicament became more sinister.
With such an ornate auditorium and with such brilliant actors, the romance of Shakespeare does not get much better than this.