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2008: Macbeth - EIF 2012

Lowland Hall, Royal Highland Centre

4 stars
There’s fire in the belly of Grzegorz Jarzyna’s contemporary war-zone
set reimagining of Shakespeare, even before its final explosions signal
the last gasp of battle. The rain and laughter of those liberated
following the deposing of a once loyal General turned tyrant suggests a
curse has been lifted and an entire country cleansed.
In the two hours build-up to this on Stephanie Nelson and Agnieszka
Zawadowska’s huge two-tiered construction, Jarzyna’s TR Warszawa
ensemble take a real-politik approach to the play’s sound and fury,
with Macbeth a camoflauge-clad major, who encounters, not three
witches, but veiuled goddess Hecate, who flatters his unspoken
ambitions.

At Macbeth’s homecoming where the military coup is hatched, Lady
Macbeth dresses as a geisha to entertain the troops in-between Elvis
impersonators and a white-faced magic act in Uncle Sam apparel.
Interior monologues re delivered via live video projections, and after
Duncan’s killing the Macbeths rut against the drinks machine,
over-taken by the erotic thrill of their actions. Hecate talks again
through a man dressed in a rabbit suit, while the doctor who tends to
Lady M’s OCD is a shaven-headed, pink-dressed temptress.

Such liberties make for a vividly contemporary post 9/11 Macbeth, which
mixes the literal with the mystical in astonishing fashion. In
Jarzyna’s hands, Macbeth’s themes of power and corrupted ambition
become even more prominent. Cezary Kosinski’s Macbeth is a haunted
looking figure, with Aleksandra Konieczna’s Lady M’s a surprisingly
domestic tragedy. While some of the translation for the English
surtitles needs addressing in terms of meaning, Jarzyna has created a
blisteringly unrelenting take on the Scottish play that doesn’t flinch
from its dark heart.

The Herald, August 13th 2012

ends

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