ARTYFACTS: Macbethski - Chichester festival

Friday, June 01, 2007

Macbethski - Chichester festival

Clever stuff
Set in early Soviet Russia, there's some fiendishly clever direction. It's a whizz-bang production that brings out the best in the hapless Macbeth, and ruthless Lady Macbeth. Surprise opening, as there's no opening witches scene, only the bloodied soldier telling of the battle. Then it pops back in when the sergeant dies on the operating table. Scenes one and two are inverted, and it works perfectly. I can see now why some see this first witches' scene as a later addition.

The murder of Banquo, by pistol, was set on a Soviet train with backdrop video. This was excellent, as the murder on the heath is difficult in a small theatre. Banquo's ghost scene is always troublesome. You're damned of you do, damned if you don't. Here he makes a physical, bloodied appearance, leaping onto the dining table (cut to darkness for intermission), then the whole scene is repeated after the intermissions, with a psychological Banquo appearing only in Macbeth's mind. The battle scenes were raucous with lots of loud sound effects and AK 47s. Clever work by Rupert Goold.

Very different mob over there in Chichester, compared to Brighton. All beige slacks, blazers and brooches, with accents to match. I did like the trio of older women sitting up behind me, one said to the other (who was Scottish) 'You're the real lady Macbeth, Dorothy'. Her quick reply was 'No my dear, I've never given 'suck'! Never judge a book by its tartan-jacketed cover.

The mismatch in age is slightly odd (he's 67, she looks as though she's in her 30s), especially when he grabs her crotch and breasts. In fact, it added a slight air of illegality! While we're at it, on Star Trek, surely they would have cured baldness in the 24th century?

Kate Fleetwood, the vampish Lady Macbeth, got her teeth into the role and sucked Macbeth dry. She certainly took him where no previous Star Trek commander had gone before - to bloody assassination and death. I didn't like Stewart's moustache. I suppose it was meant to give him a Stalin-like appearance, but it made him look less menacing.


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