Macbeth at Abney Park
Set in Abney Park, a cemetery, Macbeth is a fitting story to be retold. A play in promenade, the audience is required to literally follow the actors through the park, the cemetery and its eerie surroundings providing an ideal setting for the play. The walk begins and the audience arrives upon the first scene of Paul Linghorn’s version of Macbeth; an action scene in which it feels as if one has genuinely stumbled upon a fight in a forest. The three witches appear and Shakespeare’s beautifully macabre writing rings out among the trees and the gravestones, an incredibly unique way of enjoying Shakespeare’s classic.
The three witches herd the audience around the impressive park, their lively and wonderfully weird performances involving the audience in the action as much as possible. Although resorting to audience participation can often fall flat and seem gimmicky, this did not detract from the piece and contributed to involving members of the audience who were perhaps not diehard fans of Shakespeare.
Katy Mulhern’s portrayal of an insane and power hungry Lady Macbeth is captivating, her first scene in which she reads a letter from Macbeth immediately conveying the impending doom and tragedy. Her bright pink dress contrasts with the nature of her character and the gloomy surroundings, the trees blotting out the sunny evening. As the play progresses, the audience is led to the scene of the banquet in which Macbeth’s guilt emerges in the form of insanity. Banquo’s (Porl Matthews) bloody ghost hovering in between the trees is unnerving and conveys effectively the feeling of horror felt by Macbeth at seeing such an apparition.
While unconventional, experiencing Macbeth as a promenade performance in a setting such as Abney Park is certainly interesting and allows for the audience to gain a different perspective, especially for those that have encountered the work before. Linghorn’s ingenious adaptation of the Scottish play will appeal to all fans of Shakespeare – just be prepared to do some walking.
Macbeth is at Abney Park until 27th July 2014, for further information or to book visit here.