The 2015 motion picture of Macbeth was too slow and winding for me, devoid of passion, and sent me into the Land of Nod. This adaptation from 6FootStories was very much the opposite: an enjoyable production that more than kept me awake, but keenly interested in how this well-known Bard tale would be unravelled in such a small space with such a small cast.
Will Bridges, Jake Hassam and Nigel Munson between them play, well, everyone in Shakespeare’s ‘dramatis personae’, with a little help from some props. I have no desire to even attempt to recall them all, but do look out for a cuddly toy monkey. And no, there’s nothing remotely racist in its use or application. Look out, too, for the health-and-safety compliant sword that ‘Duncan’ is killed with.
Use of generic high-pitched monotone voices to depict female characters is thankfully limited. The audience must, as a side effect, work out who is, for instance, Lady Macbeth. But, as I say, there are props aplenty, and it’s never difficult to follow who is talking to whom about what. It really does work, and it’s a remarkable achievement.
As with any adaptation, there are changes from the original, and the way events are presented here makes me think that it’s best enjoyed by those who have been exposed to the full five-act Shakespeare play. The completely uninitiated will still be able to ‘get’ what’s happening as far as the narrative is concerned, but a lot of the humour derives from alternative interpretations of key events and famous lines.
The staging is not always perfect, with my sightline blocked several times by a character facing the other two, and in the process preventing me from seeing what was going on. But this is such a physical play that a full view was restored within seconds. Some of the music is unfeasibly modern – the play hasn’t been reset in the present day – and the near-constant changing of characters is almost like the stage adaptation of The 39 Steps.
This fast and angry rendering of a classic story is impressive, and while it seems a little rushed, that’s always better than an unimpressive sluggish production! Parts of it are so inappropriate that it’s right up my street. Avoid if you’re a Shakespeare purist. Otherwise, it’s one to consider.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Macbeth: a tale of sound & fury
by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE retold by 6FOOT STORIES
2nd – 20th February 2016
7.45pm – £14/12
Tuesday to Saturday
“Something wicked this way comes…”
Three gnarly fortune tellers live amongst the rats in an old junk yard, apart from decent society. Eager to teach the selfish world of man a lesson, they prepare a fortune reading that will destroy a throne and everything around it.
In this demented retelling of Shakespeare’s violent and thrilling classic, 6FootStories invite you to witness their wayward witches go about plotting the fall of Macbeth, rehearsing what they hope will be the bloody and catastrophic aftermath of their prophecy.
“Fair is foul and foul is fair…”
Performed by three actors in an immersive set made entirely of recycled objects, this is Macbeth as you’ve never seen it before. The deranged cast will all play Macbeth, and his wife, and all the other major characters, swapping roles like a gory game of pass the parcel.
At The Hope Theatre
207 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1RL