SHAKESPEARE said that all the world’s a stage and that was certainly true when Theatre Space North East took over Sunderland’s Roker Park.
Set against the idyllic setting, a troupe of actors gave a captivating performance of one of the Bard’s most famous tragedies.
But this wasn’t your typical outdoor performance. Beginning at the beach entrance, the audience stood and watched the actors perform right in front of them, before following them around the park, settling at picturesque settings to see the play continue.
Each location - whether it was the bandstand, the lake, or an overhead bridge - fitted the scenes perfectly, and it made for a truly unique and exciting theatre experience.
Under the fabulous direction of Corinne Kilvington, the cast told the story of Macbeth (Jacob Anderton), a Scottish general who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that he will become the King of Scotland.
Consumed by ambition and egged on by his wife, Lady Macbeth (Kylie Ann Ford), he murders King Duncan (Thomas Potts) and takes the throne for himself, only to be wracked with guilt and paranoia.
Anderton is a strong, confident and brooding leading man. He completely captured Macbeth’s turmoil.
Ford, a familiar face on the local theatre scene, is more regularly seen in a comedic role, but she was powerful and terrifying as Lady Macbeth.
Vicious and vivacious, she performed the role with infectious zest.
The witches (Helen Bowie, Rachael Walsh and Megan Hopper) were suitably eerie - their vacant stares alone were enough to give you nightmares for a week.
Potts, Bowie, Walsh and Hopper, along with the rest of the cast, Jay Sykes, Gareth Scott, James Errington, and Lee Goodfellow, played multiple roles, and did it fantastically.
Even with just subtle costume changes, there was never any confusion about which characters were present.
The shortened version of the play (abridged by Paul Dunn) ran for around 1hr 30mins.
With around 1hr of the play missing, you would expect holes in the story, but it flowed perfectly.
All of those famous scenes and speeches were there and the cast performed so fluently that even those alien to the work of Shakespeare would have known exactly what was going on.
The audience seemed to grow in numbers along the way, as people enjoying an evening stroll in the park came over to see what all the fuss was about.
People of all ages - and even a dog - enjoyed the show, and despite the illusion being threatened by a couple of unruly passers-by, cast members didn’t falter for a moment.
It was a theatre experience like none I’ve ever had before and I loved every second of it.
As the play concluded, the audience erupted into rapturous applause which was thoroughly-deserved.
Of course, they were all standing anyway, but I’m confident that even if they hadn’t been, they would have rose to their feet.
Macbeth is on again tonight and tomorrow. Meet at the beach entrance of Roker Park at 7pm.
The performance is free but with a suggested donation of £7. For more information, go to the Theatre Space North East website.