An eerie production of Macbeth is playing at the grounds of Stafford Castle for the Stafford Festival Shakespeare this July
But this July, the annual Stafford Festival Shakespeare returns and brings a dark and dramatic portrayal of Macbeth to the atmospheric surroundings of Stafford Castle. The remains sit atop a hill a short drive out of the town centre and provide a simply stunning setting for an outdoor production like this.
A short but steep walk up a tree-lined path with the castle ahead of you helps to bring you into the right frame of mind. With nothing around but fields and trees, you are catapulted into the atmosphere of the night – which for us was the supernaturally-charged tragedy of a Scottish-set Macbeth. If it wasn’t for this heat wave, you might think you were on some sort of Halloween pilgrimage.
As you walk to your seats, bagpipes are playing softly in the background and there was even a giant falcon on the arm of one of the cast, who incidentally are already on stage setting the scene – a great way to bring the audience to attention quickly! The medieval-designed stage is a good size with two levels and the audience are seated in three sections to the front and sides of the stage – there’s just the right amount of seating too; not too many to make it lose that intimate feeling but enough to make you feel comfortable.
The play itself is as you would expect – there’s loads of drama, blood and gore and some pretty impressive acting too – but one thing’s for sure, you’ll be gripped by this highly imaginative and well-produced version of it.
Nabil Stuart was brilliant at bringing Macbeth’s troubled and somewhat whining character to life, as was Rosie Hilal as Lady Macbeth, especially during her sleep walking monologue. The witches, played by Sian Mannifield, Nicola Jo Cully and Mairi Hawthorn are a highlight definitely – they were bizarre, intriguing and thoroughly wicked and you were eager to see them return to the stage.
The eerie atmosphere continues after the curtain closes too – the cast run on and run off the stage just as quick leaving you with just the sounds of a lone bagpiper standing on a mound and the dark of night. Loved that.
Originally set in the ‘11th Century’, Macbeth lends itself perfectly to the backdrop of Stafford Castle, and there really is something special about being able to spend entertaining evenings outdoors during the summer and this is certainly one you’ll not forget.
Macbeth runs until Saturday 14th July 2018 at Stafford Castle, with tickets available from just £14. Full ticket information can be obtained from the box office on 01785 619080 or Stafford Festival Shakespeare 2018.