In as much as Shakespeare is the high priest of English Literature, Rebellious Subjects choice of venue for their production of Macbeth seemed oddly fitting. No doubt some of the actual congregation turned up and were mildly perturbed to find three gorgeous S&M garbed witches torturing a man on an alter of their own.
This image, as the opening scene and indeed the only scene in which there is any blood – makes for a startling and unique take on the “When shall we three meet again…” riff. The witches appear again and again at key point controlling and embedding themselves into Macbeth’s future even as he struggles to take control himself. This, I felt, was the strongest and finest element to this otherwise eerily bloodless play.
Lady Macbeth, the beautiful and strident Linette Beaumont, gives an excellent performance which is starkly nuanced in harmony with that of Macbeth. The journey she takes from manipulative harpy to broken queen, whose husband, in becoming her creation, like Frankenstein’s monster, cannot stop killing – is vividly portrayed, compelling performance.
Director Darren McIllroy, as Macduff, controls a large cast who whisk in and out of the space rhythmically in their corporate suits and leather jackets. It is a cold and brittle court that King Duncan finds himself in, as Banquo (Richard Roberts) and Macbeth dream of a future in which they have the power – and a bloody promotion is in the offing. Choosing not to use any actual blood enhances the boardroom feel of the piece, so that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth ‘see’ blood that doesn’t exist.
Perhaps it serves, as in American Psycho, as a hint at the madness beneath their plotting. The result is a strangely disturbing sterilised feel, and as to what us and isn’t real -just of how much of what occurs, like Banquo’s ghost, happens merely in Macbeth’s fevered imaginings? The final scene in which he is killed had the whole cast of twenty actors rushing onto the stage surrounding, smothering Macbeth and when they come away he is gone – and like his visions of death he is a ghost – a whisper on the wind, easily dispersed. A strong vision of the Scottish play.
Sara Mae Tuson
UK Theatre Network