Fools Play is a young physical theatre collective reworking the Macbeth plot with a mixture of movement and script. The adjective ‘our’ is significant; it suggests that Mac, the tommy of the title, is a creation of the people he represents. The audience is implicated.
The first twist is that there is a narrator, an intermediary. Alice Coggins, a reporter on the Grimsby Gazette somehow wangles her way to become a war correspondent (for the Grimsby Gazette?!). An essentially comic character, the play opens as she is interrogated about what she knows and she treats it all as a bit of joke – ‘I’m feeling sick now; do you want me to be sick on you?’ And this leads to the main problem: uncertainty of tone.
Mac is a perfect soldier, being puffed by the media to celebrity status, ‘tall, dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes’. He is egged on to murder his general, a comedy performance with a silly beard and sillier accent. The most obvious reference to Macbeth is in the compulsive washing of hands by the person who encouraged Mac to the murder, but her/his relationship to Mac is neither clear nor worked through.
There are some interesting images. The opening interrogation is ingeniously balletic. The three witches become three bureaucrats, heads hidden in attaché cases, who stamp ‘Approved’ on Mac’s torso. However the movement itself shares the general uncertainty, becoming sinister slo-mo and parody disco dancing at different times.
Obviously one should welcome and encourage a new company developing experimental work. However, Fools Play should go back to the drawing board with this one, and decide what they want to say, what tone they want to create, what attitude they are taking to their own material.