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MacbethOn Thursday 5th November, girls from MIV and UVI – different ends of the school but both studying Macbeth - set out for the beautiful Watermill Theatre in Bagnor, Newbury to watch their production. It was a particularly apt date since Shakespeare wrote the play very much in response to the Gunpowder Plot which attempted (and failed) to kill King James I and his parliament.

The theatre, converted from an old watermill, as the name suggests, is a cosy, intimate venue. The wooden balconies of the Circle, where most of us sat, gave it the feel of a theatre of Shakespeare’s day and added to the intensity of the atmosphere. Theatre staff aimed to increase audience engagement still further by handing out sweets to everyone during the feast scene, so we could all share the experience when ‘our’ host appeared to go mad. He, of course, thinks he is seeing the ghost of Banquo, whom he has killed.

This was an imaginative, pared-down production lasting only 75 minutes and featuring only three actors – an enormous achievement. It was fast-moving and slick; the young cast moving effortlessly into their various roles. Only the actor playing Macbeth had no other parts to play. Unusually, the play was presented from the perspective of Lady Macbeth which provided much food for thought. The reason for this, according to the director, came from Macbeth’s line about life, towards the play’s end, 'It is a tale, told by an idiot' and, having no idiot in the play, the ultimately mad Lady Macbeth was selected, instead, to ‘tell’ the tale, which was watched with great interest by the packed house.