The Tragedy Of Macbeth
Aug 4-29 (12.00)
Every Fringe I love to check out a Shakespeare play, because although the spirit of the Bard never changes, it is possible to gauge the theatrical zeitgeist thro’ an individual production. It’s the one arena of board-treading in which the directors enter unto a fierce gladiatorial combat. Thus off I ambl’d to the Assembly Roxy to witness Flabbergast Theatre’s trio of combatants, who have charged into battle like the Horatii triplet warriors in the age of Tullus Hostilius. Henry Maynard is the artistic director, Matej Majeka the Movement Consultant & Adam Clifford the Musicality/Percussion Consultant, & boy! have they produced a massive Macbeth. It looks beautiful, the cast create some stunning scenery using their angular bodies with a minimum of propwork, & all that drumming & Dantean wailing sounds more than amazing.
In the middle of all that, of course, is Shakespeare’s moody, mist-soaked masterpiece, Macbeth. Unfortunately, the production was galloping impatiently at too fast a pace to maintain the seminal tensions & graven terrors of the Scottish Play, which turn slowly in our psyches as if a tourniquet has been rammed down our eye sockets & linked to our brain’s fear nodules. It’s Shakespeare, but it’s not proper Shakespeare. I mean, I prefer a test match at the cricket, while others prefer T20 – it’s a very similar scenario here. Still, stepping out of my stick-in-the-mud comfort zone, aesthetically & energy-wise this Macbeth is a stunning production, & enough of the story does penetrate Flabbergast’s elegant veneer to satisfy the purist.
The cast were great, some moments of elite-level performance. The Wyrd Sisters were a class act, almost seizing the role’s immortality portentously, as if they were the three Chinese schoolgirls on the first night of the Mikado. I also enjoyed the spectacle of Dale Wylde’s ‘fool’ interlude, which made me feel as if I was watching Richard Tarleton himself. For me, Flabbergast’s Macbeth is a Scorpion’s worth of theatre, with a vicious sting in its tail. A pleasure to watch.