Shakespeare with a touch of Scouse

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Macbeth is set in gangland Liverpool at the festival

The Liverpool Shakespeare Festival promises to have a distinct flavour of our city thrown into the theatrical mix as it returns for its fifth year this month.

This year sees the festival come to the Royal Court theatre with two of the revered English playwright’s most famous works, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

The Liverpool Shakespeare Festival was launched in 2007 by Max Rubin, the Artistic Director of The Lodestar Theatre Company. It began as outdoor summer event before moving to indoor venues in the heart of the city.

Despite both of these plays being staged previously, Rubin maintains that audiences will be treated to entirely new interpretations of these classics, with the Macbeth epic set in gangland Liverpool.

Rubin told JMU Journalism: “They will be totally different to what we’ve done before. These shows have been inspired by the newly refurbished Royal Court stage and the actors. This year they are set very firmly in modern Liverpool and will have a different sort of voice.”

Former Hollyoaks actress, Zoe Lister, who is most recognisable as Zoe Carpenter in the Chester-based teen soap opera, will play the Queen of the Fairies in Midsummer Dream, and arguably one of the most coveted roles for any actor, the vindictive and scheming Lady Macbeth.

“The[Lady Macbeth] character appeals to me because she’s one of the biggest characters to play in the world,” Lister told JMU Journalism. “It’s very monumental and exciting. It’s a part that I’d really hoped to play one day. It’s so intricate and there is so much to her. It’s a massive challenge.”

Zoe Lister plays Lady Macbeth at the Liverpool Shakespeare Festival

Lister, 30, originally from Redditch, said: “I’ve always been interested in Shakespeare but I’ve never had the opportunity to do it yet, which is terrifying. The journey I’ve been on to get to where I am now hasn’t been instrumental to me doing any Shakespeare yet, so this is a first and hopefully the first of many.”

While this festival will see Lister in her Shakespearean debut, the actor reveals that she is not looking to reprise her role in Hollyoaks any time soon: “No, I don’t have any plans to. It seems such a long time ago, like something I’ve done and I’m really happy it happened, but I’m ready to move forward and try different things.”

Jamie Hampson, a 26-year-old from Halewood, is playing Lady Macduff and Hermia in the festival, which she believes is an important cultural event to have in the city.

She said: “Shakespeare will be relevant forever. The festival keeps it alive in people’s minds and reminds people of how amazing it is. It’s great for Liverpool to be one of the cities that’s really pushing that.”

Performances will run between 21st September and 13th October at the Royal Court, with tickets from £11 available via the Royal Court website.

About Steph Niciu, JMU Journalism