THE weather was anything but Macbethian, no blasted heaths at Shakespeare's Rose Theatre.

Instead, the evening sun greeted those gathering for Wednesday's gala-night celebration of the opening of Europe's first ever pop-up Shakespearean theatre on a York car park denuded of 100 spaces for the next ten weeks, the Tarmac covered temporarily by wood chippings.

Mad Alice and Clifford, from the Bloody Tour of York, had completed their gory vignettes beside the Shakespeare's Village wagon, the free pre-show entertainment now taken over by the Richard III-era tunes of the York Waits.

Among those arriving, alighting from a taxi and pulling his suitcase behind him, was the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, looking purposeful on account of feeling peckish after the lack on food on his train back to York.

Nevertheless, His Grace stopped to say: "The thing is, when you come here, it isn't just a theatre; it's a village of entertainment, a village in a city, a place of hospitality! Food! Fun! Entertainment. Yorkshire at its very best," he concluded, by now slapping this reporter's shoulder in his enthusiasm.

Show time was not too far away, and apparently popcorn had to suffice for the Archbishop, rather than, say, a Wagyu Cheeseburger, gravy pot and chips at the Yorkshire Pudding Pies thatched stall or Moules Mariniere or the Smoked Garlic Mushroom Salad/Burger on the Brian Turner-approved menu at the Mussel Pot & Grill.

Dr Sentamu already had encountered Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and one of the "weird sisters", seeing them off with a hook of his Bishop's staff on Monday afternoon when blessing the stage erected for Westow arts entrepreneur and impresario James Cundall's Lunchbox Theatrical Productions company.

Cundall, who once lost out to Stephen Fry for the role of a witch in Macbeth in their Uppingham schooldays, had succeeded where Thomas Middleton had failed in 1609, when the city forefathers rejected his proposal for a Shakespeare theatre in York. "Luckily the city council showed rather more foresight this time," said Cundall, as dapper as Noel Coward in his double-breasted jacket, is his opening speech on the stage where Richard Standing's despairing Macbeth would later say of life: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Cundall, whose shows across the globe, from York to Australia, will be seen by more than a million people this year, doesn't hold truck with Macbeth's mordant philosophy. He met up with Councillor Ian Gillies, then a senior Tory member of the council executive, at the Hilton hotel, saying he had a proposal, as Coun Gillies, now the council leader, recalled in the interval. "He wanted to put up a pop-up theatre. Where? How about the Museum Gardens?" Gillies suggested. No, the ground would not withstand the weight of the structure Cundall had in mind. Where then? "There," said Cundall, pointing to the adjacent Castle car park. "He was so insistent he wanted to make it 'real', and he's stuck to that. There are no fancy gimmicks with this theatre," said an impressed Gillies.

Once a fee for hire was agreed, the gates were thrown open to Cundall's vision. Thanking the 500-strong team that had brought that vision to fruition, and in praise of the 11,000 man hours it took to build the castellated, three-tiered edifice of wood and scaffolding, Cundall said: "After all, a theatre without a show is a car park in the making."

It was time for the plan first hatched by Middleton in 1609 to burst alive in 2018. "Imagine seeing this play for the first time in a rowdy Elizabethan theatre," said Cundall. And suddenly there was a thunderous crack of drums from Christopher Madin, tucked away with two fellow musicians on the third tier to hail Macbeth.

School children were gathered at the Groundling level, the standing zone, leaning against the stage apron excitedly as fans do at gigs. Above, on that top tier, some theatregoers shielded their eyes against the still bright sun: maybe they should have availed themselves of the Shakespeare's Rose Theatre-labelled paper peaked caps at the exits. Oh, and schoolchildren or anyone else heading for that Groundling space beneath the open roof, please be sure to stock up on suncream, water and hats to avoid the sunstroke that beset some on the opening afternoon.

Early thoughts on this Shakespearean theatre in the old Globe and Rose mould? How well voices carry and project without amplification in the wood and steel; how the impact of direct address is magnified by the proximity of stage and audience; how the stiff formality of a velvet theatre goes out of that open roof with the freer movement of the Groundlings. How York's ever-breathing role of "living with history" responds to entrepreneurial flair, as a car park, a pop-up theatre that lets the sky in and the imagination out, and any director's dream backdrop of Clifford's Tower, combine to transform the city anew.

How was it for you, Tom Bird, once of Shakespeare's Globe and now executive director of York Theatre Royal, whose artistic director, Damian Cruden, has directed Macbeth. "I loved it. It's a wonderful space, bringing back lots of happy memories for me," he said. "I genuinely feel like it's a great thing for the city of York; people coming together from all over to see Shakespeare in a York car park – and the theatre's got seats, not [the Globe's] benches, which is, frankly, terrific."

And how was it for you, Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire? "I think the theatre is amazing, the production is incredible, the acting is outstanding and, for me, it's a 'must visit' for anyone in Yorkshire this summer," he enthused, as big as Yorkshire as ever.

And how was Cruden's production? Ah, well..., when shall we theatre critics meet again, in thunder, lightning or, more likely, in sun? On the Macbeth press night, July 4. Then, and only then, will Fine Time Fontayne's naked-chested Porter and reporter reveal all.

Shakespeare's Rose Theatre runs at Tower Street, York, until September 2. Box office: 01904 623568 or at