Bristol Shakespeare Festival - MACBETH in Redcliffe Caves - Review

Insane Root’s production of Macbeth, set in the red sandstone caves of Redcliffe, is stunning. Watching this play in the subterranean shadows feels like being picked up and plonked in Macbeth’s castle in Scotland in the C11th. The ochre glow of the caves, the candles and lighting create a suitably eerie atmosphere. Given the mystique of these caves (rumours abound of all manner of historical misdeeds), the location is an ingenious choice for a staging of Macbeth. Lighting is effectively used to create shadow and light: the interplay of these reflect the central themes of deception, appearance and reality.

Macbeth’s descent into tyranny is portrayed vividly by Ben Crispin. The cave alcove in which he shrinks at moments of paranoia provides a visual metaphor for his decline. The surroundings are oppressive for character and audience. Nicola Stuart-Hill’s thoughtful and subtle portrayal of Lady Macbeth is surprising and places more emphasis on Macbeth’s ambitions.

This production is partly promenade - the audience are ushered through the caves by the characters. This is theatrical in itself as each cave is revealed, the drama unfolds. Scenes merge seamlessly with characters moving the audience along and songs are also used to transition movement and scenes smoothly.

The witches’ scenes are hair-raising: standing in a cave within arm’s reach of the witches is unnerving. The acting in these scenes is compelling and the repugnance of the witches, along with the spookiness of the setting, results in goose bumps.

Actors multi-role effectively and it is great to see a woman playing a part in the exciting finale of the battle scene. This is a pacy, exciting and fully immersive production.

(c) Samantha Coughlan July 2015
Date of review: 12 July 2015

11-27 July 2015

1 hour 50 minutes

Insane Root Production

Director: Hannah Drake
Producer: Justin Palmer


Elliot Chapman - Duncan/Macduff
Ben Crispin - Macbeth
Lorna Jinks - Witch/Lennox/Macduff’s child/Young Siward
James D Kent - Malcolm/Doctor/Witch
Andrew Kingston - Porter/Ross
Zachary Powell - Banquo/Murderer
Nicola Stuart-Hill - Lady Macbeth/Lady Macduff/Witch


Jonathan Howell - Fight Director
Kaz Light - Technician/Stage Manager
Edmund Mckay - Lighting Designer
Ellie Showering - Musical Director
Sarah Warren - Costume Designer

Grace Courtney - Assistant Director
Stuart Duncan - Poster Design
Natasha Harper-Smith - ASM

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