FringeReview.com / Review / Writing: Journalism

Macbeth (***)

LOW DOWN

A monster of a play to approach, but DeadKat Productions rose to the challenge, creating an exciting and exceptionally realised production of Macbeth. The complex multimedia played a huge part in making this piece stand apart from other Shakespeare adaptations, but also had a tendency to overshadow the writing, and often distracted rather than enhanced. Nonetheless, it is a bold undertaking, and the piece is a well-performed classic: well worth a visit.

REVIEW

Macbeth is one of those plays that has more superstition surrounding it than most other projects. Its name cannot be mentioned, horror stories follow in its wake, and the story seems to be a sure-fire disaster for many a production. It is so easy to over-exaggerate the horror, creating an atmosphere that would befit any hammer-horror piece, or ham it up to excess (see the Polanski version). DeadKat Production’s version ably dodged these, and created a new, exciting Macbeth, a multimedia spectacular that dazzled the eye and the ear.

Most of the effects were inspired. A projected dagger, floating around the ceiling of the Brighton Unitarian Church, was quite the spectacle, as was the projection that seemed to drip blood all over the staging. The use of shadow was, too, inspired, as ghosts floated, Birnam Wood walked to Dunsinane, and Banquo’s ghost appeared to us, more real than ever. These effects, for the most part, were pulled off without a hitch, which is an achievement in itself. However, most of them were more than a little gratuitous: most of the effects went on for too long, and there were too many of them. For me, multimedia effects stand-out because they are usually played as a one-off, an inventive way of accomplishing a difficult scene, not as a method of attacking a whole play. I would encourage far less effects, and focus on the more ingenious ones, as some of the less developed ones were just distractions.

The acting quality of the piece by far outweighed the hit-and-miss multimedia. Not one company member was buried under the pressure of the piece, and their performances were powerful and evocative, especially Stephen Logue’s excellent Macbeth. His ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow’ speech was truly brilliant. However, their faces were often bizarrely masked, or in darkness, or lit only by candlelight. There seemed to be little trust in the actors to pull off the piece on their own, and the multimedia got in the way of some excellent set pieces.
All this being said, I would still recommend this production. It is inventive and exciting, an impressive look at a true classic, and some of the effects are marvellous. If only there were less of them…
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