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Macbeth

William Shakespeare
Song of the Goat
Barbican Pit
(2010)

Macbeth production photo

The title of this work could be misleading. Anyone coming to it with no knowledge of Shakespeare's Scottish Play will almost certainly leave 70 minutes later clouded in equal ignorance.

What Wroclaw-based Polish company Song of the Goat do beautifully is create an impressionistic piece of largely physical theatre that drifts in and out of the original's themes.

Their influences are manifold, with Japanese traditions uppermost for much of the time in image, music played by Rafal Habel and movement.

However, to supplement the oriental, the seven-strong cast also interleave much sacred choral music and occasional tunes that seem rather more modern.

With dimmed lighting and the kind of minimalist props once made popular by Peter Brook, the highly educated, international cast under the direction of Grzegorz Bral then play variations on Macbeth.

In Shakespeare's version, Macbeth and his Lady, here played respectively by Gabriel Gawin and Anna Zubrzycki dominate the drama. Here, while they each make an impassioned contribution, the couple are very much part of an ensemble.

Like their fellows, the two leads sing, dance and, in the nicest possible sense, play around with sticks a great deal.

The effect is visually and aurally appealing and at times quite moving, especially when Miss Zubrycki, a co-founder and co-director of the company with Bral, hits the moments of greatest tragedy.

In conclusion, Song of the Goat Theatre's Macbeth is an engrossing entertainment but should be visited for its artistic qualities rather than as a production that highlights the poetry and plotting of the Bard.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher