National Theatre’s production of ‘Macbeth’

Mr S Ford | |

On Wednesday 3rd October, Ms McGuirk, Mrs Taylor and Mrs Burden took 50 Helsby High School students to The Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays, to watch the National Theatre’s production of ‘Macbeth’, a text studied by many GCSE English Literature classes. The majority of the students were from Year 10 and 11, making the most of this opportunity to see their set exam text performed on the stage, with a few remaining spaces filled by keen Year 8 and 9 students, and even one Year 7; it was wonderful to see such enthusiasm for Shakespeare from these younger pupils, as well as the older students.

This National Theatre production was staged brilliantly: the timeless classic being set in a post-apocalyptic world as the actors wore ‘modern’, but utilitarian and threadbare costumes, often held together with duct tape or with visible shredding and holes. This emphasised the key theme of Macbeth and his wife ruthlessly fighting to survive in a dystopian world of violence and desperation, as they are propelled towards the crown by forces of elemental darkness. Many students were also quite captivated by the eerie weird sisters’ performance, as they almost magically and hypnotically glided up and down the tree-like poles on stage. This performance also tried to convey the real love between Macbeth and his wife, and the ensuing madness that grips both of them as they descend into a world of treachery, chaos and rebellion. This sense of the Macbeth’s genuine love for his wife being especially emphasised in an emotive scene where he was presented cradling his dead wife’s body, as he delivered his soliloquy which ends with the infamous line that life is merely “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Overall, the trip was a great success, the students conducted themselves very well and were able to benefit from seeing this fresh and modern perspective of a dark and somewhat violent and gory Shakespearean classic.