Publicity for this show states
“With plenty of high-octane thrills, this adaptation of Macbeth will leave you breathless.” Any breathlessness induced, however, comes from reading this statement after having seen the performance. The physicality which starts Last Notion’s Macbeth bodes well, with contact improvisation and acrobatic techniques used to imagine an opening battle, but the actual production is slow and – worse – disconnected from meaning and emotion.
In this rendition of the famous story about a noble warrior who becomes a murderous traitor, ruling in terror, the physical set pieces soon become self-indulgent, with little connection to text or story, and physicality by the way of actually embodying characters is missing from all bar one of the actors, the words being delivered by rote throughout by most. The major exception is Lady Macbeth, who is intriguing and manipulative with a certain mock-innocent attractiveness, but even she never responds to others – acting is reacting and this does not occur throughout the entire play with the exception of a young performer, barely seen, playing a messenger harangued by Macbeth near the end.
Honourable mention can also be made of MacDuff for acting effort, but again he needs to be more physically connected when speaking in order to convey the incredible emotions of this character. In the end, to produce Shakespeare’s Macbeth without an actor capable of playing the title role must always be a mistake – it is as if this entire production were meant as a showcase for the actress playing Lady Macbeth.
This cast has strong, though not professional, physical skills and there is some clarity in design which, though very basic, clearly denotes characters’ ranks and allegiances through the use of black and white shirts, black trousers and specifically coloured ties. The large double stage of the venue – a decent-sized raised dais in addition to an open floor space useful for physical performances – was covered fairly well, though sometimes not sufficiently lit. Direction, however, really does need to blend the physical elements throughout so that physicality and text-speaking are not completely divorced, and real help is needed to work on the performers’ connection to emotion and intention.
Effort has definitely been made by this company on the physicality and shape of this production – hopefully in future more will go into acting and the ability to bring text to believable and energised life.
Review by Danielle Farrow
5 – 12 August, 14:50 (16:05) @ Greenside