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Macbeth set in an alternative reality
IT is Macbeth, but not as we know it. Lindisfarne Players’ version sets Shakespeare’s bloody-soaked drama in a parallel universe.
The setting is in an old Scotland, far off in time and place, but modern resonances have a disconcerting way of popping up in the midst of this world.
The Southend amateur company has acquired a reputation for taking risks with its productions – and pulling them off. There was never much chance Lindisfarne would play safe when it came to Shakespeare.
Director Steve McCartney says: “Some of Lindisfarne’s actors, younger ones in particular, have been keen on doing Macbeth for quite a while.
“It always has a lot of appeal. It has great acting parts, lots of physical action, and it’s very accessible.
“But we didn’t want to do it just in a conventional way. We wanted to set a challenge for the production and put together something a bit less familiar.
“The starting point was to use Shakespeare’s themes of the abuse of power, the supernatural and vengeance, but in an unfamiliar timeline. And strange things keep happening. You’ll never quite know what to expect.”
Steve and his assistant director Jacquee Storozynski-Toll also wanted to make full use of new stage technology which has recently become available.
Steve says: “The production employs all the modern production techniques at our disposal, including front projection, strobe lighting and the use of ambient sound effects and music.
“We’ve created a complete soundscape, way beyond the usual odd clap of thunder you associate with Macbeth.”
Exploiting the full potential of mixed media, the stage action is interspersed with filmed sections. These were shot with Steve, an experienced film-maker, behind the camera.
He says: “We filmed in disused buildings off Harcourt Avenue, which had the right sort of feeling, like an area that really had been ravaged by urban warfare.”
Green screen technology, the basic staple of cinema special effects, was used for the ghost scenes.
Steve and Jacquee also made the decision to stage Macbeth in the round, with the audience ranked on three sides of the stage.
Steve says: “We felt it added an extra dimension to the play, making it less static and involving the audience more directly, but there’s no doubt staging it in the round does add even more challenges.”
Lindisfarne regular Rob Stow plays the title role, with Lizzie Smith as the formidable Lady Macbeth.
Steve says: “Lizzie really blew us away in auditions when she did the ferocious Lady Macbeth.”