Funtington Players promise "accessible" Shakespeare

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (Tom and Michaela Cooke)
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (Tom and Michaela Cooke)

Director Hilary Strong is delighted at the way her production of Macbeth is coming together for the Funtington Players.

She is confident it might overcome any reservations any possible audience members might have about going along to a Shakespeare.

“I did Great Expectations for Funtington about four years ago, and I really like producing an ensemble show with a large cast and epic in scale and tone.

“What is interesting is that quite often amateurs do quite stilted plays that are all about language and story, but when you find a play that is epic in scale, then you find you get a much, much more lively and energetic performance – and that’s what I enjoy. Over the years I have done Grapes of Wrath and West Side Story and that kind of show. That’s my thing.

“I was looking to do something with Funtington and I thought I would look again at Macbeth. It is a bit of a risk. A lot of regular audience members might be put off by the thought of going to see a Shakespeare. A lot of people are fearful of Shakespeare. They think they might not understand it.”

But Hilary considers this Shakespeare at his most accessible: “It is a short play which is why a lot of directors will do it without an interval. But also, I have edited it quite hard so that the story bowls along. I have cut a few scenes, and I am not the first director to do so.”

As for the interest in the piece, Hilary believes it lies first and foremost in the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth “and they way they collude together and go on to all this terrible violence.

“He would not have done it without her and vice versa. You see in modern stories like the Wests examples of evil couples that create crazy mayhem.

“But I think the other intriguing thing is the intentions of the witches. Why did they cause havoc? Was it just something to do or was it destined? There are echoes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the fairies interfering in the lives of mortals.

“But also, with Macbeth, I think the poetry is just so beautiful; the speeches are just so fantastic, full of such wonderful poetry.

“I think Macbeth does feel remorse, and by the end of it, he doesn’t want to kill Macduff. I think he is redeemable, but of course, he has to die. With Lady Macbeth, I am not so sure. Presumably she kills herself, but she is perhaps the more of the two.”

As for how Hilary is setting it, she has gone for World War Two Greek partisans: “I think that world of the partisans or the French resistance is right.

“There is an informal military which is quite a natural balance for what was happening between England and Scotland at the time. It gives the suggestion of military but it is not fully regimented, and also it allows for long dresses for the women. It is contemporary-ish, but not this decade or the last decade. It is more mid-20th century.

“And it is coming together really well. I am loving the rehearsals. We are exploring and we are trying things out and people are always surprising. We are looking forward to getting on with it – and we have ordered the fake blood, which is the critical thing in Macbeth!”

Macbeth by William Shakespeare will be performed at West Ashling Village Hall from April 9-13. Tickets on

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