Dramatic cave setting in Beer for Macbeth
PUBLISHED: 18:30 18 May 2016
This year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and there won’t be a more spectacular tribute to the world’s greatest playwright than Four of Swords Theatre’s latest production.
The Exeter-based company returns to Beer Quarry Caves with its blood-curdling adaptation of Macbeth. The show features Shamanic techniques, haunting live music, gruesome film projections, a quad-bike, Icelandic chanting, a splash or two of gore and even some Highland sword-dancing.
When the company performed the play there in 2014, it was the first time a theatrical production has been staged at the 2,000-year-old site between Sidmouth and Lyme Regis. Stone from the quarry was used in the building of Exeter Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle.
Beer Quarry Caves were first worked by the Romans and closed as a quarry in 1920. The grandeur of the mighty halls, vaulted roofs and massive supporting pillars of stone, and the fact that it boasts a few of its own ghost stories, make it the perfect backdrop for Shakespeare’s darkest and most powerful tragedy.
“Although this is not a traditional theatre space, it’s certainly dramatic,” explains Philip Kingslan John, co-director of Four of Swords. “I’m most excited about using the cave walls to project the film sequences which help us tell the story, and the acoustics are amazing.”
The acoustics at Beer Quarry are so good that the caves were used to host a concert for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and Australian pop group Cloud Control recorded part of their album Dream Cave there.
“We immerse our audiences in the world of the story we are telling,” continues Sarah White, Philip’s co-director and playing Lady Macbeth. “That doesn’t mean it’s interactive, which can be off-putting to some people. It’s about being so close to the action that you can see the slightest exchange of looks between characters, or feel them brush past you as they enter the space.”
Audience members will be guided through the labyrinth of the caves by The Witches, the weird sisters whose prophecies predict and just perhaps steer Macbeth’s actions and seal his fate.
As with previous Four of Swords productions, audiences will be standing and walking for the duration of the one-hour, 15-minute show.
You will need to wear sensible footwear, warm clothing and take a torch to help you find your way to and from the car.
Please be advised that this show is too creepy for under 11s.
Macbeth is at Beer Quarry Caves, Quarry Lane, Beer from Thursday, June 9 to Saturday, June 18.
Tickets are £15 (£13 for students) and are available from www.four-of-swords.com
There are no performances on Sunday and Monday.