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Macbeth by The HandleBards at York Theatre Royal

Can you count all characters in Shakespeare’s Macbeth? Well, you do not have to worry about missing out on any of them. The HandleBards’s show played by all females made sure that we see everyone!

The theatre company started performing in 2013. During the past years, they played in Africa, Asia, Australia and in the USA as well. In 2014, they travelled with Macbeth but back then all characters were played by men. Until today, the gender dynamic has been overturned and Macbeth is performed by females only. Another milestone that is worth mentioning from the illustrious history of the theatre company is that in November 2016, they became the first-ever all-female troupe to perform in Sudan.

Producers, Tom Dixon and Paul Moss regard Macbeth as one of their cherished plays from The HandleBards’ Shakespeare repertoire.

Believe me, this version of the story is something you haven’t seen before. Every moment of the hour and forty minutes show is full of movement and life. The three actresses Kathryn Perkins, Natalie Simone and Jenny Smith impersonate all characters, objects, concepts and noises which are necessary for the storytelling. Their sudden change of characters and accents prove their professional abilities meanwhile keeping the mood as light as possible by interacting with the audience. While watching their hilarious act, you kind of forget how cruel and dark is the original plot. From the very first moment to the last the troupe keep the stage busy and you never lack a crew bigger than the three actresses.

Picture credit: The Handlebards, Rah Petherbridge Photography

The show was directed by Emma Sampson, the unique stage design and costumes were arranged by Lucy Green.

The theatre company is also unique in their approach to touring the country. When they set on the road in 2014, they purposely chose a sustainable solution for travelling. They go everywhere on bicycles due to their concern for the environment. For the bigger stage equipment, they use a zero-emission electric van but their main aim is to travel lightly. Everything they use on stage has to be simple and packable for obvious practical reasons. The members of the crew carry their personal belongings on the sometimes 30 miles daily cycle trip. In the past 8 years, they cycled over 10,000 miles all over the country.

The HandleBards also have a podcast in collaboration with actor Bill Ross-Fawcett. An extensive list of William Shakespeare’s plays such as Romeo and Juliet, Much About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale and Macbeth can be listened to here.