Macbeth by Antic Disposition at Temple Church

[Published on Theatre Bubble, read the original piece here]

You might be familiar with Macbeth, but I bet you’ve never seen it played in a 12th-century Gothic church with a late-Victorian setting. Antic Disposition are famous for taking classic plays to historic buildings and unusual non-theatre spaces, and their latest production lives up to the successful record of their previous shows.

The acting takes place on a long, narrow stage in the central nave of Temple Church. You quickly get used to turning your head back and forth, following the actors as they stride up and down the nave. Loud shrieks, ominous flapping and clangs from the battlefield are all it takes to create an immersive and gloomy atmosphere, together with an exceptional lighting design (think deep red to match the bloody hands of the Macbeths, dim lights for the spooky night in the castle, etc.). The church itself offers a wonderful, echoing venue where the lines of the bard resonate in full power.

Antic Disposition’s Macbeth, Louise Templeton, Robyn Holdaway and Bryony Tebbutt (Credit Scott Rylander)

With such an elemental setting, all eyes are on the cast (and the audience can see them pretty well, from pretty close). Stealing the show is Lady Macbeth (Helen Millar), the quintessential embodiment of so many “Slytherin” traits. Her icy eyes and resolute gestures convey her ruthless thirst for power, before spiralling all the way down to the abyss of madness. Macbeth himself (Harry Anton) gives a meticulous rendition of the titular character, articulating his lines with great (excessive?) precision. As the play goes on, his fear, confusion and insanity gain more and more credibility, peaking during the apparition of the ghost of Banquo (Peter Collins) at a dinner party, and finally portraying the king a truly wretched man.

Antic Disposition’s Macbeth, Louise Templeton, Robyn Holdaway and Bryony Tebbutt (Credit Scott Rylander)

The real protagonists of the show, however, seem to be the three witches (Louise Templeton, Bryony Tebbutt, and Robyn Haldaway), who are given more prominence than in the original script demands – a choice only but in keeping with the atmospheric setting. The looks, gestures, and composure of all three add a blood-curling touch to the show, enhanced by the fact that they regularly mingle with the cast throughout the action. Their ominous presence gives the audience shudders through and through, in what is a remarkable and inspired production of Macbeth.

Four stars


Antic Disposition’s Macbeth
Temple Church
20th August – 7th September 2019

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