Pioneering Theatre, Music and Community Arts

 In Wolverhampton from 1980 to 2013

Wolverhampton

1982 - 2013

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Macbeth 1: The Stage 13.06.91- Evesham Arts Centre

Jon Lingard-Lane, Artistic Director of Wolverhampton’s Zip Theatre Company, which celebrates ten years of community touring with this production, gives a clear, intelligent reading of the play, confronting and surmounting its various difficulties for a modern – particularly school audience.

Chief among these is the Witches. Lingard-Lane banishes them from the cast list, substituting Porter (Cathy Pemberton), Serving Woman (Lesley Beaumont) and Seyton (Colin Dixon), skilfully creating from this trio of retainers at Dunsinane Castle a depraved triumvirate who hoodwink and debauch their master.

After his murder, Banquo’s ghost appears as solid – and blood-soaked – as at the instant of death, a silent, accusatory figure who fades into darkness when Macbeth tries to strike him. It brings the full horror of the banquet scene vividly to life and held a school audience in tense silence.

Incidental music by Tim Hubball and Alison Ashton’s simple, but versatile design give the actors a head start. Tony Neilson makes a dark, brooding Macbeth.The power is lowered to the studio-size auditoria to which the company tours, but the intense introspection of the man is clear. He is well-contrasted, in the early scenes, with Cliff Barry’s Banquo, a laughing extrovert unlikely to fall prey to hooded ‘soothsayers.’

Dyll Ferreday lacks something of the passion of Lady Macbeth but does project her calculating aspect and her total absorption in her husband. Joe FitzGerald is a virile King Duncan, cut down in his prime, and a manly Macduff. His fight with Macbeth is excitingly managed even to the final hoisting aloft of the tyrant’s severed head.

I’ve seen glossier productions but this will linger as a chilling evocation of where and how evil grows in a society. (Ann FitzGerald)

2:Lichfield Mercury 3.05.91 Breathtaking Thane of Horrors

Foul, bloody, and unnatural acts were the order of the night at Lichfield Arts Centre for Zip Theatre’s Macbeth. What originally looked like a straight interpretation of the Scottish play unfurled into a violent blood curdling incarnation, of which Stephen King would have been proud.

Alison Ashton’s set design which consisted mainly of tubular steel poles, was stark and superb. Swift scene changes set the savage tone for the whirlwind, almost impatient, speed of the play. Blood stained costumes, straight out of the Army and Navy stores, were perfect for the tense violent atmosphere which is constantly brooded below the surface.

The keynote of the play was the appearance of Banquo’s ghost, played by Cliff Barry, who almost slithered onto stage, syrupy blood oozing from his wounds. The whole cast were brilliant, especially the witches whose spells seem to pervade the very air we breathed, assisted by a foul smelling dry ice.

Tony Neilson played Macbeth as a nervous schizophrenic who grew in stature and power as he descended into madness. His performance was breathtaking and what it lacked in poetry was made up for with energy which exploded when the evil Thane lapsed into chaos.

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