Young Shakespeare Company provide new insights into Macbeth

On Thursday 8 February, the English Department welcomed the Young Shakespeare Company to St George’s College. 

With just five actors, the theatre group performed an abridged version of Macbeth after a short workshop where students were enlightened about the decisions made by directors and actors when putting on a play.

The students absolutely loved this first section, especially after their relief that the YSC were not actually going to be doing the whole session in a melodramatic and exaggerated way, which they were duped into thinking initially with some hilarious overacting. After revealing that this was a trick, it was great that the company acknowledged and explained how different interpretations worked. Another highlight of the first section was the *clapping* part, which involved the performers stopping the action with a clap so that they could talk about their character’s feelings at that moment, a useful strategy for understanding the motives of the characters in key passages.

During the performance, the decision to portray the witches as children was deliberately creepy, but many students felt more sympathetic towards these characters after seeing this version. Banquo’s post-death appearance was certainly memorable and emphasised the gory nature of his death, whilst another stand-out moment was the death of Lady Macbeth occurring on stage, which St George's students had never considered before. The physicality of the Macbeths gave new insights and emphasised their relationship nuances, as the characters felt more real, more human, and more flawed. A final highlight was the decision to show Malcolm as incompetent and weak, which most students felt made a lot of sense in light of the actors’ explanation that there is textual evidence to support such an interpretation.

The performance was also interactive, with five students being called into action and doing an admirable job. One of the students who played an assassin said: “I was tempted to add in a bit of extra impromptu”.

Overall, the production allowed the students to access the play with greater confidence, especially in terms of exploring the subtleties and nuances of character. St George's would like to offer a huge thanks to the Young Shakespeare Company for coming in.

22 February 2018

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