THE curse of Macbeth combined with Lockdown 1’s imposition to put a stop to York Shakespeare Project’s Scottish Play just one week before its March 2020 opening.
Rising like the ghost of Banquo, but sure to be better received, Leo Doulton’s resurrected production will run at Theatre@41, Monkgate, from October 26 to 30 as the 37th play in the York charity’s mission to perform all Shakespeare’s known plays in a 20-year span.
Doulton is casting Macbeth into a dystopian cyberpunk future, using a dramatic new staging to bring to life this dark tale of ambition, murder and supernatural forces.
“This production has had an unusually long journey, and I’m grateful to everyone involved for their wonderful creativity and resilience over the years, whether they’re a veteran of the original production or a newcomer,” he says.
“It would be impossible to present Macbeth in the same way as when we started work on it before the pandemic. We’ve moved from a world where we fear quite specific things to one where we fear more pervasive, invisible ones, such as the pandemic and the climate crisis.
“Cyberpunk is an exciting genre for Macbeth, allowing us to explore Shakespeare’s ideas of lurking corruption, a disintegrating reality, and the search for some moral certainty. It is a magnificent play, and I look forward to sharing this production at long last.”
YSP secretary Tony Froud says: “We were all disappointed not to see Macbeth take place last year, when we were so close to the finish line, especially after the hard work of Leo and the cast and crew.
“During lockdowns and restrictions on performance, we’ve done our best to stay engaged with our community with online play readings and two successful outdoor productions of Sit Down Sonnets, but we’ve always been planning to return to this play and the resumption of our 20-year mission.
“We’re really pleased that Leo and so many of the cast have been able to return, and we can’t wait to share this production with a wider audience.”
York Shakespeare Project in Macbeth, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, October 26 to 30, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Tickets cost £15; £5 for students, means-tested benefit recipients and under-18s. The October 26 performance is an open dress rehearsal with tickets at £5.
YSP’s plot summary
MACBETH receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become king. Torn between duty and the chance of greatness, Macbeth and his devoted wife murder King Duncan and take the throne for themselves. Macbeth slowly turns into a tyrant, as corrupt as the strange witches. Meanwhile, the forces of virtue realise what Macbeth has become and a civil war begins.
Macbeth: Emma Scott
The Lady: Nell Frampton
Banquo, Siward: Clive Lyons
Fleance, Donalbain, Son, Young Siward: Meredith Stewart
Macduff: Frank Brogan
Duncan, Lady Macduff, Menteith: Elizabeth Elsworth
Malcolm: Rhiannon Griffiths
Lennox: Andrea Mitchell
Ross: Tony Froud
Angus: Sarah-Jane Strong
First Witch, First Murderer, Doctor: Joy Warner
Second Witch, Second Murderer, Gentlewoman: Diana Wyatt
Third Witch, Third Murderer, Caithness, Seyton: Xandra Logan
Director: Leo Doulton
Set and costume designer: Charley Ipsen
Lighting designer: Neil Wood
Sound designer: Jim Paterson
Poster design: Charles Keusters
Company back story
YORK Shakespeare Project (YSP) was established in 2001 with a commitment to perform all of Shakespeare’s known plays in York over 20 years.
Debut production Richard III took place in 2002, since when YSP has staged 35 productions, covering 36 of Shakespeare’s plays. Despite the pandemic-enforced delays, YSP still plans to complete the project in 2022.
For more information, go to: yorkshakespeareproject.org.
Coming up at CharlesHutchPress: Director Leo Doulton discusses his dystopian, cyberpunk Macbeth.