Norwich theatre creates elaborate shipwreck for its Macbeth production

The set for the Maddermarket Theatre production of Macbeth. Director and set designer Chris Bealey,

The set for the Maddermarket Theatre production of Macbeth. Director and set designer Chris Bealey, right, with theatre set designer and carpenter James Utting. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The eerie wreckage of a upturned ship will provide the atmospheric backdrop to a new production of Macbeth in Norwich.

The set for the Maddermarket Theatre production of Macbeth. A model of the finished set.
Picture: AN

The set for the Maddermarket Theatre production of Macbeth. A model of the finished set. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The elaborate set for the Shakespearean tragedy is currently being constructed at the Maddermarket Theatre, with the front of the lifesize vessel appearing to crash onto the stage and into the auditorium.

It is one of the theatre's most ambitious sets to date and has been created by the show's director Chris Bealey, who used to be a carpenter by trade, and the theatre's carpenter James Utting.

Work began on creating the huge structure - including an 8m long keel - out of plywood a couple of weeks ago and, with the help of some of the theatre's volunteers, on Monday the main part of the ship was installed on stage within about four hours.

Mr Bealey said the idea of the using the shipwreck for the staging was to draw out the witchcraft and supernatural themes within the well-known story that sees a prophecy foretelling Macbeth's rise to power turns his mind to ambition and bloodshed.

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Mr Bealey said: 'I wanted to take very much the supernatural view of Macbeth, the witches in the first scene say they are going to create a shipwreck.'

He explained that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth when King James VI of Scotland had recently assumed England's throne, and that the King had been a firm believer in witchcraft, personally leading witch trials and believing himself to have been a victim of witchcraft when he found himself at the mercy of powerful storms in the North Sea.

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'It is really difficult for a modern audience to understand how people really did fear witches. Shakespeare's audiences would have really feared them and thought they were dreadful, so I wanted something that overhangs the scene, it [the ship] is a tangible sense of the witches. I want people to feel their presence throughout the play.'

About the practicalities of creating the set, Mr Utting said: 'When Chris came to me with his initial idea I thought 'that'll be a challenge', but I wouldn't be here doing this if it wasn't a challenge, and look how good it is! It's the biggest thing we've done in here – the hardest part was the big push to get the keel up!'

The set for the Maddermarket Theatre production of Macbeth. Director and set designer Chris Bealey,

The set for the Maddermarket Theatre production of Macbeth. Director and set designer Chris Bealey, right, with theatre set designer and carpenter James Utting. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Macbeth opens at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich on Friday, March 17 and runs until Saturday, March 25. Tickets £8-£12.

The Man Who Was Hamlet is also being presented on March 29 at the theatre and a combined ticket for both shows costs £20.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.maddermarket.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 620917.

The set for the Maddermarket Theatre production of Macbeth. Director and set designer Chris Bealey w

The set for the Maddermarket Theatre production of Macbeth. Director and set designer Chris Bealey with a model of the set. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

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