Macbeth, 4 Stars

Reading Minster
24th Oct to 9th November 2019

Shakespeare’s fierce thriller is reimagined with raw power this Autumn by the multi-award-winning theatre company, Reading Between the Lines.

RBL, whose productions have been attracting audiences to Reading in their thousands since 2012, return to breathe new life into Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Staged in the round, RBL are privileged to welcome you into the stunning Minster church in central Reading, where an immersive, visually arresting design from Emily Leonard awaits.

“This will be the Bard’s classical masterpiece in a whole new light” explains director Hal Chambers, who directed the company’s 6 x award winning Conquerors trilogy and whose recent production of Henry V at The Barn Theatre, Cirencester, received high praise. “Women come to the fore in this new production, reclaiming the typically male-led play for themselves.”

In their Killing Eve inspired Macbeth, the lead character is thrust into a high-stakes underworld of politics and betrayal in which her and her husband carry their recent grief of a lost child and remodel it into dangerous ambition.

Review by Richard Lambert, 4 Stars

Shakespeare would appear to be having a huge popularity boost with so many current productions right now – all of which have decided that his work needs “re-invention.” I’m not sure why they all want to muck around with the Bard’s work – it’s stood the test of time, unlike, I suspect, most of these modern versions.

Reading Between the Lines” fits this same mould. Here Macbeth is played by a woman. Macduff also. From what I remember from my English literature shool teacher, Macbeth believes that he cannot be killed by any man born of a woman, he soon learns that Macduff was “from his mother’s womb” – which is how Macduff manages to do away with Macbeth. None of which makes any sense when played by 2 female actors as we have here.

If there is a justification for this then it’s lost on this Reviewer.

Without Witch costumes, no “bubble bubble toil and trouble”, and a tea party which lacks any fluids pouring from or into any crockery, Director Hal Chambers has boldly stepped into the suspension of belief big top on quite a grandiose scale. He has also gotten away with it!

According to the co-Artistic Director Dani Davies. “Expect haunting imagery, thrilling fight sequences and chilling original music. Possessed by the tone of many a modern horror movie, this Macbeth will be one you won’t want to miss.”

But it’s without doubt the production quality that propels this version of Macbeth into success!

Popping up in a city centre church is never easy and this is where the production starts to soar! With stunning lighting by Michael Brenkley that captures the mood, the moment, the atmosphere quite exquisitely. The stage is placed in the crossing of the church’s nave, surrounded on 4 sides by the audience. It’s a marvel how well it all fits in. A well conceived lighting rig that’s fully utilised dramatically accents the action providing focus and wash exactly where called.

Take a look at the photographs below to see some of the imagery created by Michael Brenkley’s wonderful lighting!

The Sound Scape and Musical Compositions, Harry Smith, are equally just top notch!!! From music to underscore to sound effects it’s clear the Sound department were tireless in their support to create the most fabulous atmosphere throughout.

With the Stage Movement well rehearsed and executed like a military operation, Sabina Netherclift, clearly had her vision realised with gusto!

Of all the modernised Shakespeare productions currently around this is definitely one not to miss! Sometimes you have to take a 25 minute train trip to see something a little different!

Photo Credit: VIVA Photography

Further Information

Reading is a mere 25 minute direct train journey from London Paddington
Reading Minster is a 10 minute walk from the station
There are several car parks nearby


Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Reading Minster, RG1 2HX

Dates: Thurs 24th to Sat 9th November

24/10/19 – 7pm (Pay What You Want Night from £7)
25/10/19– 7pm
26/10/19 -2pm & 7pm

28/10/19 – 7pm
29/10/19 – 7pm (Reading Festival Sponsored £10 Tuesday)
30/10/19 – 7pm (with fee post-show discussion)
31/10/19 – 2pm & 7pm
1/11/19 – 7pm
2/11/19 – 2pm (Relaxed Performance Matinee) & 7pm

4/11/19 -7pm
5/11/19 – 7pm (Reading Festival Sponsored £10 Tuesday)
6/11/19 – 7pm
7/11/19 – 2pm & 7pm
8/11/19 – 7pm
9/11/19 – 7pm

Tickets: £22 to £25 (incl Booking Fee)
Schools: £13

Booking information: