Watford Palace Theatre brings its ground-breaking new production of one of Shakespeare’s most enduring classics to York Theatre Royal. Tracy-Ann Oberman (EastEnders, Doctor Who, Friday Night Dinner) makes history as the first British actress to play Shylock in The Merchant of Venice 1936 Continue reading →
Verdi’s Macbeth by York Opera, photo by Ben Lindley
Verdi’s first and most bloody, supernatural of his Shakespeare adaptations is in capable hands with York Opera, who revisit this dramatic chorus opera this autumn for the fourth time in their history. With Storm Babet rolling in as their external backdrop, the company’s confident production relies upon the clear skill of an impressive, experienced cast and crew. Uplifted by an equally adept orchestra, this is a truly striking rendition of the well-known tale of desperate ambition.
“Now the murderer creeps like a phantom through the shadows.”
John Soper’s set design evokes Celtic circles echoed by the Steampunk cogs of Maggie Soper’s witch costumes. Belaying a traditional red-and-black palette for more muted teals and purples, the set conjures up the family tartan of Sir Walter Scott, and perhaps vicariously his own curiosity in demonology and witchcraft. Sung in English (by way of early modern English, Italian and French) and featuring a variety of eras and styles in the costumes, this production crosses place and time to create a liminal, disorienting atmosphere as mists and mystical prophesies surround, fill and eventually choke the Macbeths, played by the impressive Sharon Nicholson-Skeggs and Ian Thomson-Smith.
“Open your mouth, hell, and swallow all creation in your womb.”
John Soper’s stage directrion gives weight to particular dramatic moments through stillness; Banquo (Adrian S. Cook) singing to his son Fleance (Noah Jackson), and the whole ensemble singing in soulful mourning around their murdered king. The simplicity of these arrangements adds a gravitas to the story that is often chased away in favour of busy depictions of madness, and a frenzied focus on the lead couple. Here, we are forced to sit with the deep grief felt by the court. The emotional force of this event, and of course the Macbeths’ hand in it, is palpable. When a stage full of people are belting out this requiem of woe directly around the body, you can’t help but feel it.
Leon Waksberg makes a memorable debut with the company as Malcolm, enriching some of the more beautiful harmonies arranged for the male characters. The night is ultimately in the hands of Nicholson-Skeggs, whose otherworldly voice and apparently self-sourced costumes are nothing short of iconic. Her whip-sharp lashes of Verdi’s more broken, violent lines for Lady Macbeth perfectly capture the urgent emasculation of her husband as they spiral out of power and control. The show is a must-see for a graceful, enlightening version of the play you think you know.
Macbeth is playing at 7pm on 20 and 4pm on 21 October, at York Theatre Royal, running at 3 hours including an interval. Tickets and further information available here.
Wrap up warm and ring up your rellies because it’s time for a festive treat for the whole family. In just a few nights’ time, York Medical Society will again open its doors to James Swanton – past winner of Outstanding Performing Artist in the York Culture Awards – and … Continue reading →
Utopia Theatre, a leading voice for African Theatre in the UK, presents Here’s What She Said To Me, a powerful piece of storytelling drama that follows three generations of proud African women connecting with each other across two continents, across time and space. Written by Oladipo Agbolaje and directed by Mojisola Elufowoju, this moving show demonstrates a rich cultural heritage and consciousness. Continue reading →
Le Navet Bete bring a cast of four to their hilarious, audacious twist on Robert Louis Stevenson’s legendary tale, featuring an unusual, motley crew of south-west-accented pirates, a parrot called Alexa (straight from ‘the’ Amazon), a certain white-bearded fish finger tycoon and a mermaid you’ll never forget. Signature joyful chaos ensues. Continue reading →
Presented by Pilot Theatre in co-production with York Theatre Royal, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Mercury Theatre Colchester and Derby Theatre, this world stage premiere of Zana Fraillon’s acclaimed book captures a painfully pertinent story of refugee experience. Continue reading →
What better time than Autumn to observe nature’s transient gifts and cosy up with a book? This November sees the launch of brand new Staffordshire-based poetry publisher Fawn Press, and their inaugural anthology, Elements: Natural & The Supernatural. Founded and edited by established local poet Scarlett Ward-Bennett (Ache, Verve Poetry Press), Fawn Press “aims to publish beautiful books of exceptional poetry, as we believe that poetry has the power to change lives through that transcendental connection between writer and reader.” Continue reading →
Charlotte Emmerson (Therese Raquin, The Duchess of Malfi), Denis Conway (The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Brooklyn) and Joseph Marcell (King Lear, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) lead a small ensemble cast directed by James Dacre, Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate Northampton, in the world premiere production of Alone in Berlin, Hans Fallada’s acclaimed novel translated and adapted for the stage by Alistair Beaton; a York Theatre Royal and Royal & Derngate Northampton co-production, in association with Oxford Playhouse. Continue reading →