By William Shakespeare
HOME, 2 February 2016
Clemmie Sveaas, Jessie Oshodi and Ana Beatriz Meireles in Macbeth. Photo by Richard Hubert Smith
Darkness visible: Macbeth, the Klein bottle remix.
The best thing about this extraordinary production of Macbeth was… the witches. Or, to expand on this statement somewhat, the witches, as played by the dancers Clemmie Sveaas, Jessie Oshodi and Ana Beatriz Meireles; Lucy Guerin’s choreography; and Clark’s score.
Appearing on stage in almost every scene, the witches coloured your whole perception of the tragedy. They looked like ghoulish Coppelias or Hans Bellmer dolls, their expressions blank (not malign, exactly), their skin pale and corpse-like, sickly sweet. They were feral angels, dysfunctional dominatrices. Their stock in trade was plastic sheeting; you knew blood would be spilt. Guerin’s choreography was disturbingly erotic or sometimes just disturbing (a la Cafe Muller) and could have been inspired by Bellmer’s anagram poem, Wir lieben den Tod: ‘Rot winde den Leib, Brot wende in Leid…’ and so on. You get the picture.
Usually, the witches’ tenebrous machinations take place in the shadows, unseen. The astonishing decision to foreground them radically altered the dynamic of the play, and that in fascinating ways. For one thing, the stature of Macbeth (John Heffernan: excellent) was diminished. He was no longer the fearsome warrior, later tyrant, that we know from, most recently, the Michael Fassbender film. Instead, his golden crown had the appearance of a dunce’s cap, quite fitting for a fool who has been duped into damning his soul.
Besides the witches, another (minor) surprise of the night was the scene which showed Banquo complicit in Duncan’s murder. I don’t remember this in the text but trust that it is there. (Though the play was first performed before King James, Banquo’s erstwhile descendent, and why would Shakespeare offend his patron?) Anyway, it made sense that ‘noble’ Banquo would keep schtum here: he knows his lineage will benefit from Duncan’s death.
This was a revelatory production of a classic play and an utterly compelling theatrical experience. Macbeth is showing at HOME until 6 February, a run of a mere five days (far too short), further details can be found here.