Wednesday, June 09, 2021

'Macbeth' by WIlliam Shakespeare

9 June 2021

Last weekend we enjoyed our first live theatre since seeing an open air production of ‘Twelfth Night’, in the car park of The Place in Bedford last September (reviewed here in September 2020). On Sunday we were in the lovely surroundings of the Walled Garden at Luton Hoo Estate, on a beautiful summer evening, for a performance of ‘Macbeth’ by the Handlebards. The Handlebards are “cycling actors who carry all the set, props and costume needed to perform extremely energetic, charmingly chaotic and environmentally sustainable Shakespeare plays across the globe”. We first encountered them at the 2018 Milton Keynes International Festival, where we saw their all-female troupe performing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (reviewed here in July 2018). We saw them again in 2019 in the garden of the Quarry Theatre in Bedford when we watched their all-male troupe performing ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Sunday’s show was an all-female production of ‘Macbeth’ played for laughs by just three actors. It was charmingly silly and incredibly enjoyable. Handlebards performances tend to be more about the challenges of presenting Shakespeare with so few actors and how the cast overcome them. I’m not sure anyone unfamiliar with the plot of ‘Macbeth’ would really have followed it but I don’t think that mattered. There was some great use made of bicycle accessories and Lady Macbeth went through quite a lot of hand sanitiser trying to clean her hands of blood. This was glorious slapstick tomfoolery and, after so long away from live theatre, it was wonderful to rediscover the joy of being in an audience again.

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