Review: Macbeth, The HandleBards, Crook Hall and Gardens, Durham

FUNNY TRAGEDY ... The HandleBards gave a uniquely hilarious performance of Macbeth.

FUNNY TRAGEDY ... The HandleBards gave a uniquely hilarious performance of Macbeth.

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WHO would have ever imagined Macbeth could be so funny?

Cycling Shakespeare troupe The HandleBards had the audience in stitches as they gave a uniquely hilarious performance of the tragedy.

The group - made up of Callum Brodie, Callum Cheatle, Tom Dixon and Paul Moss - stopped by Durham’s beautiful Crook Hall last night on their 2,000 mile journey across the country.

Armed with only what they could carry, they gave a bizarre and unforgettable performance.

Macbeth follows a Scottish general who is told by a trio of witches that he will one day be king. Egged on by his wife, he murders the current ruler and takes the crown for himself.

Usually a sinister story, The HandleBards managed to turn it into a comedy while sticking to the script, and it was absolutely brilliant.

The audience chuckled with delight as the actors - who all wore kilts in honour of the Scottish play - worked their way through the wonderfully weird performance.

Dixon stayed in character as Macbeth while the rest of the cast took on multiple roles, with a change in character signified by the ringing of a bicycle bell.

Quick costume changes helped to show the difference between characters, and the actors cleverly used the likes of picnic blankets, hats and waistcoats, as well as changing their voices and accents.

Props were also extremely inventive, with bicycle pumps for swords and wheels for shields. Shuttlecocks were used to give Moss’ Lady Macbeth a womanly appearance and baked beans acted as blood in the gorier scenes.

Of course, multi-rolling can create the problem of one person needing to be on stage as more than one character at the same time, but this was overcome by dressing up tennis rackets, holding up hats and pulling audience members up to help.

It was a chaotic, clever, charming and funny performance and one that I’m sure each audience member will never forget.

The HandleBards, part of theatre company Peculius, are back at Crook Hall at 7pm tonight performing The Comedy Of Errors. Whatever plans you’ve got, cancel them and head to the show. I promise you won’t regret it.

To book tickets, or for future performances, go to their website.

Twitter: @ShieldsGazVicki