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The Macbeths

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

In a strip-lit room on a messy bed surrounded by hastily discarded clothes, two broken lovers cling to each other. Together alone, they share whispered secrets in their special place, far from the maddening crowd. The bag that sits at the foot of the bed marks the return of a man with a head full of ideas, while the woman who lies beside him eggs him on to take things all the way.

Murder can be sexy in Dominic Hill's stripped down, studio-bound take on Shakespeare's Scottish play, in which, with the aid of dramaturg Frances Poet, the central couple's most intimate exchanges become a form of bonding before they go too far. The result is a sweaty, erotic and breathlessly self-destructive re-imagining that casts the Macbeths as serial killers driven to extremes by their own distress.

A drawer brim-full of never played with toys suggests loss in the cruellest of ways. A tape recording brings further echoes to the fore later on, finally tipping Charlene Boyd's Lady M over the edge, even as it points to more recent outlaw couples who thought they could get away with murder. As Boyd piles on layers of witchy make-up which, for a while at least, masks Lady M from the consequences of her actions, Keith Fleming's Macbeth looks set to snuff out everything and everyone he ever held dear.

Punctuated by throbbing techno and lacerating shards of electric guitar, this is a play for today's desperate times as much as its classical source. It also comes possessed with a final moment guaranteed to make you jump, if not the life to come, then certainly the one that comes after.

The Herald, October 2nd 2017

ends

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