Whilst many of you may be familiar with Shakespeare’s classic tale of murder, treachery and deceit in the form of the tragedy Macbeth, I doubt that many will know absurdist playwright Ionesco’s rendition of the tale, the comic and innovatively titled Macbett. Written during the Cold War as a satirical condemnation of the corruption of power and government, the play seeks to explore the depths of human nature through light hearted comedy and the addition of a few notable characters. Anyone for lemonade?
Ionesco and his Theatre of the Absurd is a popular phenomenon at The Nottingham New Theatre, as seen in the previous production of Ionesco’s work, the foreboding Rhinoceros directed by Chris Trueman. Once again, in directing this production, Trueman has created a wacky and wonderful world full of madness and laughs, but one which has a serious message lurking behind the comic exterior – what happens when you’ve got rid of one dictator and the next ruler turns out to be even worse?
Firstly, the acting was simply spot on. At the beginning of the play, I was initially concerned that the acting style would be childish or overly odd. However, my fears proved to be completely unfounded, the cast instead created a refreshingly unapologetic and frank performance, the actors unafraid and willing to completely let go. From the lowest soldier, mole-like and blind to their fate, to Macbett himself, the talent of the cast was what truly made this play. Laurence Cuthbert and Duncan McGillivray as Macbett and Banco respectively, made a foppish and humorous pair, declaring their undying loyalty to their king, before swiftly plotting to murder him. Their constant innuendos, the repetition of many key scenes swapping one character for the other, and most importantly, their fantastic prancing walk, made every scene a joy to watch. Similarly, Tom Tolond’s cowardly Duncan, and his inspired slow-motion death created a stand-out performance, whilst the three prophetic ‘witches’ played by Joe Hincks, Daniella Finch and Emilie Brittain, were a vision of demented and manipulative evil, quite literally controlling Macbett like a puppet. Extra praise must be given to Brittain, whose multi-roling and the variety of characters successfully portrayed was very impressive – expect big things from her!
Credit is also due to Set Designer, Ollie Shortt, whose complex creation- featuring a projector and balcony- was visually stunning. Combine this with distinctive musical choices and atmospheric lights, and the New Theatre truly transformed into a magical place! It was the little moments that made this play shine, from the hoovering of Banco as he’s trying to orate, to the significant look towards the audience, to the placement of a light, all of which caused the audience to feel such intimacy with the cast.
There is little, if anything, to criticise about this play, I honestly enjoyed every moment! Singing, dancing, sex scenes, casual seduction, sorcery, blasphemy, death and violence seamlessly combine to create this comic delight for all, as the cast simply do not give a damn. Even a Shakespearean novice would have been able to fully appreciate the laughs this inspired rendition of the classic tale created.
Macbett runs at The Nottingham New Theatre until the 5th December. Click here for more information and how to buy tickets: http://newtheatre.org.uk/whats-on/
Edited by Georgina Varley