Trips and expeditions

9 October 2023

Year 11 review Macbeth at the RSC

Jonathan Muir, Head of English

We were pleased to secure tickets for the whole of Year 11 to enjoy a trip to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) to see their GCSE text Macbeth in live performance.

Students have also been working on their non-fiction writing, and some took a detour into play reviews to explore proper literary critique of the performance. Please enjoy these three insightful commentaries.

‘On Tuesday 3 October, Year 11 HelKats ventured to Stratford-upon-Avon, to the RSC, to watch a weird, wacky, yet wonderful performance of Macbeth – a performance which has already been warmly nicknamed a ‘brave Macbeth’ – well it deserves that name – by the students for the performance’s adventurous and modern twists on the traditional Shakespearean play.

Some students argued that the adaptations were overdone and confusing, making King Duncan a strong queen holding power, and Banquo a powerful woman on the battlefield – and yet leaving the charismatic Lady Macbeth still needing to push her husband in order to gain power for herself.

The RSC included hints of domestic violence, showing Macbeth to grab his wife’s neck; this opposes the strong ideas in the original text of Lady Macbeth very much being a strong-minded woman who seems to wear the trousers in the relationship. Other students, though, enjoyed this modern twist and took much pleasure from the Porter’s humorous modern political speech.’

Imogen and Florence


‘Year 11 took the long journey up to Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of Shakespeare, to watch a stylised yet slightly confusing version of Macbeth. The production attempted to explore gender roles in a very male-dominated play through the choice of casting a ‘Queen Duncan’ and a female Banquo. However, this felt like it conflicted with one of the main themes of the play – the powerlessness of women in a masculine world – and we found the overall premise rather ineffective.

The play was broken up by a controversial Britain’s Got Talent-esque Porter scene in which (again) she left the audience feeling confused and a little targeted after what seemed like endless attacks at GCSE students. However, the performance was somewhat revived by the impressive and creepy portrayal of the witches and in-depth exploration of the supernatural, leaving us feeling a mix of terror and excitement from the very beginning. Overall, it was an interesting and valuable trip, even if it wasn’t exactly what we expected – like the serpent under the innocent flower.’

Josie and Millie


‘In this rendition of Shakespeare’s classic Scottish tragedy, we were treated to an interesting cast of talented men and women, but some questionable character choices, where the famous King Duncan was a queen and women were thanes. Whilst the idea of this gender inclusivity is welcome, the execution seemed forced. However, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s mental health crises were portrayed with realism and impacted the audience fully, with some immersive moments meaning we followed Macbeth’s mental journey right next to him. The best performance of the night was by the three witches, all of whom made the supernatural come to life.’

Misha and Zoë

Jonathan Muir, Head of English

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