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Macbeth

William Shakespeare
6FootStories
The Hope Theatre

6FootStories Credit: Zinta Gercans
6FootStories Credit: Zinta Gercans
6FootStories Credit: Zinta Gercans

6footStories is a boisterous group of three actors determined to make Macbeth funny. They use the events and words of Shakespeare’s play, but do so with a riotous humour.

The three actors play all the parts and sometimes all three of them play the same part. Various props are used to indicate which character is speaking. Macbeth wears a red sash. Lady Macbeth wears a scarf.

The walls of the theatre space are plastered with brown stained cardboard. Here and there it is splattered with what looks like blood. The word ‘murder’ is scrawled in large letters. A huge pentagon is chalked on the floor. It feels as if we are in a grotto. This is where the three witches begin the story.

It is told with a song, an amusing dance, visual jokes and a tendency to speak the text in a peculiar way.

Macbeth recruits someone to kill Banquo to the music of the American television series Twin Peaks. Banquo carrying a teddy bear is then assassinated in the style of a silent movie. It took me a little while to realise that the teddy bear was representing his son Fleance.

The actors often begin speaking Shakespeare’s lines quietly conveying clearly their meaning but this didn’t last long. As if struck by a cattle prod, they almost always complete what is being said in an exaggerated delivery which reminded me of the character Long John Silver in Treasure Island. This impression was encouraged by the cast wearing what looked like pirate costumes.

I wasn’t sure if this exaggeration was meant to mock the language or just be intended to be a funny style. Either way it didn’t raise even a smile from the small audience the night I attended. It also didn’t help us understand what the text was supposed to mean.

Occasionally the actors took an approach that did help understanding. When they each took part of Macbeth’s speech about the killing of Duncan, they drew attention to the way Macbeth is arguing with himself. The additional voices seem like an external expression of his conscience.

The problem with all this is that there are only rare moments when the actors give us a chance to appreciate the richness of the language or the depth of its meaning. Of course they might say that misses the point. After all they are simply determined to uproariously entertain with light and not very imaginative fun. But it does rather bury Shakespeare and what we are left with is not very funny.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna