reviews for all our past productions
"What fun it was"
Cinderella - Stratford Observer
"Tread the Boards really did save Christmas"
Cinderella - Happy Family Hub
April - May 2022
'Can thoroughly recommend Bouncers. Absolutely brilliant performance! Fabulous acting, great pace and truly funny'
'Saw this last night and it was absolutely bloody fabulous! Felt like I’d had an ab workout from laughing so much and my cheeks ached by the end too. Honestly best night out I’ve had at the theatre in a long time'
'Small ensemble of 4 players gave a wonderful show in this small and personal theatre'
March - April 2022
Stratford Herald Review - 1st April 2022 - Peter Buckroyd
I have seen many appalling and ridiculous productions of Macbeth, maybe more of this play than of any other. Peter O’Toole knocking down the set at The Old Vic and Jane Horrocks being required to wee on a raised walkway at Greenwich Theatre before some ‘gentlewomen’ mopped it up are memorable for all the wrong reasons. More recently in Stratford we saw King Duncan in Act I receive a messenger lying in bed with children round the bed; we saw another Stratford production with children in nets/trapeses and gawped at Macbeth at the top of a stepladder on an empty stage in Act V spouting words of sound and fury.
This production by Tread the Boards Company is memorable for all the right reasons. It is great to see Shakespeare back at The Attic and even greater that the opening nights of the production played to good houses. Long may it last for the month’s run because it deserves full houses. Directed by John-Robert Partridge, there is plenty of power but no gimmickry. All the tricky bits are dealt with amazingly well. No one laughed at ‘he has killed me, mother’, because sensibly Macduff’s son did not run off stage at that point: a blindingly obvious but rarely seen interpretation.
I have to admit that my heart always sinks in anticipation of Act IV, scene iii, the scene where Malcolm is testing out Macduff. It almost always seems interminable, Malcolm’s ruse too extreme and unlikely and the announcement of the death of Lady Macduff and her children a jarring interruption. Not so here. John-Robert Partridge did the bold thing of playing Macduff - the hardest part to play - himself and the interplay between himself as Macduff and Ben Armitage as a powerful but restrained Malcolm was electric. Added to this was Ross’s intrusion with restrained posture and verse beautifully spoken by Edward Manning so I was forced to think again. The power of the scene was enhanced by the memory of a heavily pregnant Lady Macduff splendidly played by Catherine Prout, even more poignant to those in the know who realised that the Macduffs were being played by a real life husband and wife.
There are all sorts of other lovely things in this production. Pete Meredith’s interactions as Banquo with Fleance were beautiful. Phil Leach was a credible King Duncan and Daniel Wilby an effective Macbeth. The relationship between the Macbeths is always key to the success of a production. Instead of going for the now rather clichéd metaphor of sex as a metaphor for violence and vice versa, there was always an emotional distance between this couple and as audience members we were never quite convinced by the sincerity of the kisses between them. Alexandra Whitworth was psychologically convincing as Lady Macbeth, her coldness and detachment clearly ultimately leading to her madness and suicide. John-Robert Partridge was brilliant as Macduff: very still physically with piercing but deep set probing eyes.
But there were other surprises for me. The play went at a cracking pace. Even Act IV, scene iii didn’t halt its forward progress. The three witches (Sarah Feltham, Sally Hyde Lomax and Clara Lane) were a spooky presence throughout. Partridge used them several times to underscore a scene’s mood. They all three played other parts but Partridge sometimes used costume changes and sometimes didn’t. The best idea was when Witch 2 (Sally Hyde Lomax) played the Porter (for me usually the second most tedious scene in the play) but here because we thought witch when we saw porter we had external and internal evil combined - inside and outside the castle, inside and outside the mind. A great idea.
But the abiding memory of this production for me will be its atmosphere. Kat Murray’s lighting design was about as complex as possible in The Attic and Elliott Wallis’s sound design quite wonderful. There was sound all through but it never became obtrusive. Lights, sound and human actions and voices combined in perfect harmony.
Bum on a Seat Review - 31st March 2022 - William Stafford
The Attic Theatre, Stratford upon Avon, Wednesday 30th March 2022
This production by Tread The Boards takes a traditional approach, with splendid medieval costumes conveying the historical period, although with the Northern English accents, it’s less Glamis Castle and more Winterfell. But at least there’s consistency, creating the world-of-the-play most effectively. The action plays out against a huge map of Scotland, which has been torn — symbolising the political climate of the story.
Judicious use of sound design (courtesy of the brilliant Elliott Wallis) makes the intimate Attic Theatre space feel larger. The sounds of hurly-burly surround us. Cast members running around and fighting put us right in the action. Enter Three Witches… This ragtag trio engender an otherworldliness, even though they could pass for mortal women – their eye-of-newt scene later on is horrible, as they place the disgusting ingredients in their cauldron. The Witches also double as other characters: servants, messengers, giving them a direct hand in the unfolding doom of their victim. Witch 2 (Sally Hyde Lomax) doubles as the Porter, bringing much-needed comic relief to the tense scenes surrounding the murder of Duncan. Witch 3 (Clara Lane) makes a sympathetic Lady Macduff, while Sarah Feltham’s Witch 1, the twitchy one, offers support in a string of minor roles. The impression is given that the Witches are more directly involved in Macbeth’s downfall than we might have thought.
Speak of the devil. Daniel Wilby’s Macbeth is a credible warrior (some Macbeths I’ve seen aren’t!) and his conversion to the dark side, while a little speedy, is also believable. Wilby is at his strongest in the scenes where Macbeth unravels – the banqueting scene is especially powerful – and his portrayal of a man under immense stress, with violent outbursts, is captivating.
He is more than matched by Alexandra Whitworth, who is quite simply the best Lady Macbeth I have seen. The steely-eyed wickedness, the growing sense of isolation, the mental breakdown… all played to perfection. Whitworth brings out the character’s humanity. She is so much more than a wicked woman who can’t cope with the consequences of her actions.
Honestly, this is a truly excellent cast. Phil Leach’s King Duncan exudes kindness without losing any of his regal status; Ben Armitage’s Malcolm is superb – like Macduff, we take him at his word. Armitage gives the boy king assuredness; he is definitely this Duncan’s son. Pete Meredith’s Banquo goes from brave and noble best mate to terrifying apparition. A versatile actor, Meredith later appears as the doctor – the contrast couldn’t be greater. John-Robert Partridge’s forthright Macduff is thoroughly righteous and decent. Partridge’s rich speaking voice is a pleasure to hear, and you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him.
There is strong support from the likes of Tom Lane’s Lennox, Edward Manning’s Ross, and Patrick Large as Seyton. Everyone handles the language with clarity and understanding. John-Robert Partridge’s direction gets everything right, the supernatural bits are unnerving, the action scenes are exciting – the climactic swordfight between Macs Duff and Beth is thrilling – making the confines of the performance space seem large enough to contain this story of a nation in upheaval, while yet intimate enough to chart the decline of our tragic hero. Partridge doesn’t clutter the stage (there’s no room) but lets Shakespeare’s text do the donkey work, ensuring that this superlative cast deliver the time-worn words with truth, ease and freshness.
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Warwickshire World - 30th March 2022 - Charles Wesse
Review: A bleak and powerful Macbeth on Stratford stage
A bare stage and a backdrop of a map of Scotland, torn across the middle, set the scene for a land riven by invasion, civil war and deadly rivalries. This production had no scenery and minimal props, which enhanced the bleak political landscape of the time.
Macbeth is a tale of greed, ambition and betrayal. Although a courageous soldier, Macbeth (Daniel Wilby) is irresolute as he allows his wife’s ambition to induce him to pursue the witches’ prophecy. Daniel conveyed well Macbeth’s underlying character weakness and inner conflicts. Alexandra Whitworth was excellent as Lady Macbeth with the right balance of emotional persuasiveness, protectiveness of her husband, and anguish and guilt as she fears her dreams of power are slipping away.
John-Robert Partridge gave a forceful yet sensitive performance as Macduff, especially on learning of the murder of his wife and children by Macbeth’s henchmen and Pete Meredith showed his versatility in his role as Banquo. Sarah Feltham, Ciara Lane and Sally Hyde Lomax were a star turn as the three witches, each with a different portrayal of their role, whether speaking or staring silently at the audience, menacing/intimidating in this small theatre. Much of the stage was often in darkness, with individual characters spotlighted, adding to the mounting tension as Macbeth and his wife headed towards their fate. The final fight scene between Macbeth and Macduff was impressively fearsome as they fought with broadswords.
Sometimes the sound effects were too loud and the recorded dialogue in the scene with the apparitions was largely inaudible. It was only by knowing the script that this reviewer understood that Birnam Wood was going to come to Dunsinane.
The cast delivered their lines confidently and flawlessly. Any student studying Macbeth for GCSE or A level would benefit from watching this performance.
December 2020 - January 2021
"What fun it was...the annual Twelve Days of Christmas routine was as slick and funny as ever, Cinderella's transformation from cleaning togs to ball-gowned beauty a moment of magic and the contemporary allusions and masses of extended word play a delight for the adults."
"The Dame - or Dames in this case - always steal the show and Robert Moore and Pete Meredith are no exception to this, bringing Corina and Virona to life with classic slapstick, some big musical numbers and even bigger outfits...The performance is peppered with plenty of jokes about lockdown, toilet paper and even Brexit but the overarching message about being kind to one another is a perfect reminder that we are still all weathering this Coronavirus storm and shouldn't forget to show some compassions and kindness."
"The small cast of six bring life and colour to the story of Cinderella with charm and wit...the songs are catchy...All in all a very entertaining afternoon out. Tread the Boards really did save Christmas!
Happy Family Hub
"We weren’t too sure what to expect but wow we were blown away with the show and amazing actors. They battled through the wind and rain to deliver a fantastic performance that had us entertained from the beginning to the end."