Witches' dance

18th November 1994 at 00:00
How do you do the Witches? must be a question that plagues every director who faces the challenge of tackling Macbeth. Sturdy Beggars' production (Bridewell Theatre, London EC4) begins with three young, nymph-like Witches blooding a man who later turns out to be the Captain - to the sound of ritual drumming and throbbing synthesizers. Something different is clearly being attempted, but what exactly left me wondering.

The question of the witches is not a trivial one especially in a production where director Stephen Jameson has chosen to have the Weird sisters invade all areas of the tragedy: from the banquet scene, lifting Banquo's bloody corpse on to Macbeth's seat at the dinner table, to being a dancing troupe in the Porter's knock-about turn, to holding the dagger before Macbeth. But why? The way you conceive them depends on how you see the tragedy unfold. Are the Witches in control? Or do they symbolise Macbeth's lack of belief in himself?. These witches neither control proceedings nor illuminate the "vaulting ambition" of Macbeth.

The homicidal, imposter king should terrify us when he "o'er leaps" his wife's lust for power and shows that he is no longer "too full o'the milk of human-kindness". Andrew Jarvis's Macbeth, however, is caught between his dry, ironic delivery and the full-blooded, hellhound-like tirade.

Until November 26. Telephone O71 936 3456 for school bookings.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today