What’s On: Macbeth – It’s Not a Game

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What: Macbeth
Where: Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, Upper Clifton Road, Sutton Coldfield B73 6AB
When: 23 – 27 May 2017, various times.

From Bishop Walsh to Bloody Murder for Local Actor

Director Ben Field is bringing the ‘Scottish Play’ to Sutton Coldfield on Tuesday and I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse of what to expect earlier this week when I popped in to the rehearsals.

Birmingham actor and former Bishop Walsh pupil Simon Garrington delivers an intense portrayal of the General who became King in Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy while Scottish actress, Roslyn Paterson, provides a Lady Macbeth that lingers in the memory and is not a little disturbing in her ruthlessness.

As luck would have it, one of the scenes being rehearsed during my quick visit was the fight between Macbeth and Macduff. The sword fight is directed by Michael Bower and is simply tremendous. Just to add that little bit extra something, Mike has brought along the sword that was used by British icon Sir Laurence Olivier for Simon to use. Honestly, that kind of blew my mind.

Ben defines the play as a ‘very intimate’ production and this is supported by it being done ‘in the round’ as they say, only in this case that is three sided.

Frances Richmond, Artistic Director at the Town Hall’s Sutton Coldfield Arts and Recreational Trust (SCART), explained:

“The great thing about the Town Hall is that because it is a convertible space we can clear it out and do it in the round, which is three or four sides, and give Ben the use of the whole room and not just the stage.”

I asked Ben if we can expect any Ben Field twists in the production?

“Because we are doing it with a school audience in mind I wanted it to be a production that was as true to the script as possible so there are no unnecessary cuts in there.

“With the prevalence of shows like Game of Thrones I decided that Macbeth would do very well on that level… it’s very gritty, very real, very earthy.”

However he did slip in the following comment:

“The only bit of this show that I have added is a little bit at the end that involves the weird sisters (the witches) that’ll make you go ‘ahh, yes’.”

But if you want to know what that is and how Ben and the cast interpret the weird sisters you’ll have to go along and see for yourself. And if you are daunted by the idea of watching Shakespeare this is the production to start with as Ben Field always provides real, full rounded characters in his plays – whether that is as director or performer and the reason behind it is clear when he says:

“Everyone talks about making Shakespeare accessible and I think the most accessible you can make Shakespeare is to make sure that the audience understand it, for the audience to understand it the actors have to understand it themselves. Shakespeare is not a book, it is there to be seen. Characters live real lives, they don’t end the moment they walk off, their lives continue. What I always want with any show I do is that you imagine the show continues way after a person has left the stage and that’s what I wanted to bring to this cast.”

Macbeth opens on 23rd May and runs until 27th with day-time performances suited to schools and colleges, exciting evening performances and weekend matinees.

This, the first in-house production by SCART brings together a professional cast and is the first Shakespeare play to be performed at the town hall since, well ever as far as I’m aware, but its success can only pave the way to more quality productions in the future.

Tickets are available from the Town Hall box office website www.townhallsuttoncoldfield.co.uk/show-and-events-tickets or by calling 0121 296 9543 Mon-Fri 10am-4pm. Tickets are priced £14 standard and £12 concessions. Productions at the Town Hall help to raise funds for the trust which will go back into the upkeep of the building.

Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him? Lady Macbeth, Act 5 scene 1.