Macbeth: at Leeds Playhouse 5 – 23 March

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”

For its restaging of Macbeth, Ash Hunter takes on the role of ambitious northern warrior Macbeth. Ash played Alexander Hamilton in the hit West End musical in 2018/19 and went on to star as Heathcliff in Emma Rice’s acclaimed production of Wuthering Heights at the National Theatre. Director Amy Leach and Set & Costume Designer Hayley Grindle’s present their thrilling take on Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy.

Jessica Baglow (Lady Macbeth) and Tachia Newall (Macbeth) in Macbeth at Leeds Playhouse. Photograph by Kirsten McTernan

Ash’s TV credits include Netflix mega hit Bridgerton, Alma’s Not Norma (BBC Two), Grace (ITV), The Trial of Christine Keeler (BBC One) and Death in Paradise (BBC One). As Macbeth, Ash will be doing whatever it takes to gain power, and ultimately, the throne, ably abetted by Jessica Baglow as Lady Macbeth, who achieved widespread acclaim in the role when the production was first staged at the Playhouse in 2022. Jessica has worked extensively in theatre, film and TV since childhood, appearing as a series regular in both ITV’s Where The Heart Is and the BBC’s Waterloo Road. Her extensive theatre credits include Pericles at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, for which she received an Ian Charleson Award Commendation.

Amy Leach, Deputy Artistic Director of Leeds Playhouse and Director of Macbeth: “I’m thrilled to be bringing this ambitious story back to the epic space that is our Quarry theatre. We were delighted with how audiences of all ages responded when we first staged it in 2022 so it’s an honour to be able to revisit it. Macbeth is a rich, exciting and rewarding play to direct – particularly when you’re blessed with such an incredible company of actors and creatives who bring drive, energy and complete commitment to everything they do. Together, we are creating a richly-rendered world designed to grip an audience from the moment the lights go down.”

Shahbaaz Khan (Malcolm) and the company of Macbeth at Leeds Playhouse. Photograph by Kirsten McTernan

The cast also includes: Adam Bassett as Macduff (A Christmas Carol, Hull Truck; A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Love’s Labours Lost, Deafinitely Theatre; Hullraisers, Channel 4); Charlotte Arrowsmith as Lady Macduff/Witch (Troilus and Cressida, As You Like It and The Taming of the Shrew, Royal Shakespeare Company); Benjamin Cawley as Ross (Dr Who and Shetland, BBC One; Queen of Chapeltown, Leeds Playhouse; Dunsinane, Royal Shakespeare Company); Aosaf Afzal as Duncan/Doctor/Murderer (Mrs Sidhu Investigates, ITV; BAFTA Award-winning series How to be a Person, Channel 4/E4); Paul Brown as Lennox (Groan Ups, Vaudeville Theatre; Potted Potter, Ireland & US tour; EastEnders, BBC One); Karina Jones as Witch/Gentlewoman (Much Ado About Nothing, Sheffield Theatres/Ramps on the Moon; Measure for Measure and As You Like It, Royal Shakespeare Company); Shahbaaz Khan as Malcolm/Murderer (Road, Northern Stage; Doctors, BBC One); Daniel Poyser as Banquo (Nine Night and The Crucible, Leeds Playhouse; Much Ado About Nothing, National Theatre; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Royal Exchange); and Elkanah Wilder as Witch/Messenger (Galatea, Brighton Festival; Brassic, Sky Max; The Chatterleys, BBC R4).

Adam Bassett (Macduff), Tom Dawze (Lennox) and Tachia Newall (Macbeth). Photograph by Kirseten McTernan

Auditions also recently took place to cast four young local actors from Leeds Playhouse’s Youth Theatre to share the roles of Fleance, son of the doomed Banquo, and the child of Lord and Lady Macduff. They will be revealed later this month. 

When it first staged Macbeth in 2022, the Playhouse welcomed 69 school groups from across Yorkshire, introducing more than 5,000 students to the excitement and lasting resonance of the play – and giving some of them their first electrifying experience of live theatre.   The Playhouse has added even more school-friendly matinee performances this time around and is offering schools an exciting programme of resources and activities connected with the production to bring additional depth and breadth to students’ appreciation of this incredible play. “This electrifying tale of dangerous obsession, fevered ambition and darkly fascinating characters will particularly resonate with young people, giving them an opportunity to binge-watch a Shakespearean classic in the same way they’d lose themselves in a blockbuster thriller,” said Amy.

Jessica Baglow (Lady Macbeth), Tachia Newall (Macbeth) and the company of Macbeth at Leeds Playhouse. Photograph by Kirsten McTernan

The creative team includes Audio Description Consultant Benjamin Wilson and BSL Consultants Adam Bassett and Charlotte Arrowsmith (Lord and Lady Macduff), who have shared their expertise and lived experience to bring additional layers of accessibility to the production. All performances of Macbeth will feature creatively integrated audio description.   Amy Leach added: “The Playhouse is committed to improving access because we want everyone to feel welcome and to see themselves reflected on our stages. We also know that working with artists with lived experience enables us to create productions that offer more depth, interest and clarity for everyone. Put simply, better access means better theatre for all.”

Leeds Playhouse – Macbeth Dress Rehearsal 26/02/2022 Photographer – Kirsten McTernan

The groundbreaking production is a feast for all the senses, created by an incredibly talented creative team that includes: Director Amy Leach (Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Oliver Twist); Set & Costume Designer Hayley Grindle (Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre; Oliver Twist, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, Leeds Playhouse); Lighting Designer Chris Davey (Lord of the Flies, A Little Night Music and Maggie May, Leeds Playhouse; 42nd Street, Chatelet Theatre, Paris); Sound Designer & Composer Nicola T Chang (My Neighbour Totoro, Royal Shakespeare Company; Kerry Jackson, National Theatre; The Death of Ophelia, Shakespeare’s Globe); AD Consultant Benjamin Wilson (Much Ado About Nothing and Guys & Dolls, Sheffield Theatres; Lord of the Flies, Oliver Twist and Road, Leeds Playhouse); BSL Consultant Adam Bassett (as above); BSL Consultant Charlotte Arrowsmith (as above); Movement Director Georgina Lamb (original member of Frantic Assembly; Much Ado About NothingComedy of Errors, Doctor Faustus, Shakespeare’s Globe); Fight Director Claire Llewellyn for RC-Annie Ltd (Peter Pan, Rose Theatre; Oklahoma!, The Young Vic; Life of Pi, UK tour); and Casting Director Lucy Casson (Hamilton, UK tour; Newsies, Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre; Lord of the Flies and Nine Night, Leeds Playhouse).

A Leeds Playhouse production at Quarry Theatre 5-23 March

Main image: Elkanah Wilder, Karina Jones and Charlotte Arrowsmith as the Witches in Macbeth at Leeds Playhouse. Photograph Kirsten McTernan.

Box office: 0113 213 7700

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