Macbeth, Barn Theatre, Southwick, review: Authentic and intimate production

Wick Theatre Company's cast for Macbeth, Jaqueline Harper-Felman as Lady Macbeth, Guy Steddon as Macbeth, Sam Rasavi as Lennox, Elliot Robinson as Angus and Dan Dryer as Ross
Wick Theatre Company's cast for Macbeth, Jaqueline Harper-Felman as Lady Macbeth, Guy Steddon as Macbeth, Sam Rasavi as Lennox, Elliot Robinson as Angus and Dan Dryer as Ross

Macbeth has been done in so many ways and set in so many different time frames, it is almost a treat to see a traditional production - and that is exactly what Wick Theatre Company gives us at the Barn Theatre in Southwick this week.

Treat it is, indeed, with a strong cast and an award-winning director carrying a strong vision for a play she fell in love with at school.

Susanne Crosby plays it straight, making it as authentic as possible, and gives us an intimate production, set in the round, so we really feel part of the action.

Macbeth is a play that is full of action, with fight scenes, confrontations and a ghost, but is also a very wordy play and it is impressive to hear the entire cast speaking the Shakespearean language so naturally.

The witches’ entrance is unexpected, so right from the start, the audience is drawn in, and the trio’s powerful delivery is mesmerising. Emily Hale, Katie Hunwick and Nettie Sheridan are strong throughout and keeping them younger, rather than turning them into old hags, somehow adds more menace.

Guy Steddon gives a measured portrayal of Macbeth, really demonstrating the changing relationship with Lady Macbeth. My only thought was whether he was tortured enough as the play went on. Guy made Macbeth quietly evil but perhaps not as affected by his deeds as he might be.

Jacqueline Harper shows both the strength and madness of Lady Macbeth and the pair work well together.

There is a lot of pressure performing such an intense play in so intimate a setting, with the audience just inches away. Facial expressions become even more important, as every twitch is noticed, and in this Jacqueline excels.

Being in the round also means every word is picked out, the audience is so focused, but the one downside is it means a fair bit of spinning around in a bid to ensure each side has a good view. From my viewpoint, it means I missed seeing Macbeth’s face when he was told the news of the Thane of Cawdor, the first sign the witches may be right, and that was a shame.

The wardrobe team of Maggi Pierce and Cherry Fraser deserves a mention for their stellar work on the large number of costumes and the level of detail.

The whole work is an intense production with some strong performances. It continues at the Barn Theatre, part of Southwick Community Centre, today, tomorrow and Saturday night at 7.45pm.