Macbeth at the Cathedral


Macbeth by The Liverpool Shakespeare Festival inside and outside Liverpool Cathedral.

Why didn’t we go prepared? A small folding chair, a blanket, cushion, thermal vests, hooded jackets, gloves – all foolishly neglected. Still really enjoyed the show though. I was a but unsure after the first half which took place inside the Cathedral, in many ways its a great setting for the play but a theatre it aint. It was difficult to hear the voices, even the loudest parts suffered from the echoing round the vast building. And, as the seating is not tiered you need to be sure you’re not sitting behind someone tall.

I’m no expert on the theatre or Shakespeare but it all seemed very professional, well directed and acted, especially the leading roles. Macbeth was played by Simon Hedger and Lady Macbeth by Ruth Alexander-Rubin.

After the interval we all followed the guys with torches down into the depths of St James’ Gardens to the area around Huskissons monument. Those with chairs, blankets etc. set them out and faced the monument only to discover the most of the early action was taking place over to the left in front of the spring. This area was used to great effect as the witches circled round and figures appeared in unlikely places.
The fight scene near the end was a bit scary, yes I know they’re well trained actors but I still worry.

So the plan is, if its raining too much to perform outside then they do the whole thing inside but what do you do if the weather’s fine when you start performing outside and then it starts raining? At what point do you decide its too bad, call a halt and ask everyone to move indoors?
We nearly found out but after a couple of attempts the rain couldn’t break through the collective will-power of the actors and audience and went away.

On the whole an enjoyable and interesting experience which I’d recommend but go prepared and if you have no idea what Macbeth is about I suggest you read up first as you’ll miss a lot of the dialogue.

At Liverpool Cathedral until September 8 2007


  1. Not sure if Ian and myself were at the same performance!
    This production was severely marred by the booming acoustics of the cathedral, making every line of the Bard’s fantastic prose drenched in reverb, resulting in the dialogue becoming incomprehensible. Coupled with poor direction this production has got off to the worst possible starts. The actors are reduced to manequins uttering their lines and failing to establish any dramatic tension. I knew the game was up when it was thought fit and proper to introduce new dialogue into one of the most famous scenes in Shakespeares canon. The result, unsurprisingly, was embarrassing.
    I left at the interval, along with a number of the audience, while my companions bravely stayed, only to throw in the towel before the denoument.
    I only hope this “festival” is not going to be an example of the cultural fare to be served up to us in 2008. Alas, and with a heavy heart, I think it probably will be.

  2. Well I did say the second half was better – at least soundwise. Afraid I didn’t spot the changes in dialogue but recognised quite a few sections from my school day readings. Maybe that’s a problem with performing Shakespeare, so many of the audience are very familiar with the stories and the lines so if something isn’t quite right they notice and it spoils it for them.
    Whereas to me it seemed well acted and although not easy to follow the story moved along well and was dramatic, interesting and entertaining.

    Not sure its worth £15 a ticket (max) though, given the poor sound and even poorer weather!

    I really don’t understand your comment about 2008 though. There will be lots of great events during 2008 as indeed there is every year in Liverpool. Why choose this one thing you’re unhappy about to put a downer on next year?

  3. “There will be lots of great events during 2008 as indeed there is every year in Liverpool.”

    I agree with you Ian but reserve the right to criticise senior council officers:


    I can call spirits from the vasty deep.


    Why, so can I, or so can any man;

    But will they come when you do call for them?


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