Solo Shakespeare, Macbeth: Hecate's Poison

Hecate’s Poison is a one-woman version of Macbeth, performed by Players Tokyo’s T. Sato. Through use of physicality and clever costume indications, Sato manages to create a mystical and atmospheric take on the Scottish play. Her voice, which is almost hypnotic in quality, manages to captivate the audience.

An interesting and atmospheric performance

The performanceemphasises themes of dignity and honour, fusing Japanese culture and the clan culture of Scotland together in a seamless and mesmerising manner. Her portrayal of the Weird Sisters and Lady Macbeth are particularly evocative, the former sending chills down the spine, and the latter’s descent into madness is entirely convincing. The portrayal of the entire play by a single individual also helps accentuate the feeling of isolation and solitude that is so pertinent to the play. Use of props, like the chessboard, also contributes to a sense of fate and works very well as an allegory for the play, where every character is little more than a pawn on a board.

Certain aspects of the performance are more limited: Sato’s tone, whilst hypnotic in quality, feels slightly monotonous. Many of the characters are portrayed rather similarly, making it hard to differentiate between some of the male characters. A very serious performance, the comic intermission with the ‘devil’s porter’, in the form of a hand puppet, also falls flat: it seems disconnected from the audience, in addition to lacking commitment and believability. Furthermore, the link into the puppet section, which breaks the fourth wall, is not obvious enough. The puppet’s mouth doesn’t coordinate with what it is supposed to be saying, and the jokes fail to cause a reaction. Sato’s enunciation, at times, is a little hard to discern, especially during highly impassioned moments, making it difficult for people who are unfamiliar with the play to follow. More physicality and movement to illustrate what is being said would help too, although this is done incredibly effectively when present. Hecate’s Poison was an interesting and atmospheric performance, a classical, yet new approach to Macbeth. Its mystical element, would, in moderation, be incredibly effective; however, the use of this for the whole duration means that the performance is rather placid and occasionally too introspective. It lacks relief and connection, one of the limitations of a solo performance. 

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The Blurb

A revival of a 2014 production. 'Why Mac Bethad? Why a bloody tyrant?' An adaptation of Macbeth told by Hecate, the goddess of crossroads, from her point of view. The original folio text is mostly preserved, although Hecate's scenes, which were probably not written by Shakespeare, are not considered in this interpretation. An unusual yet classical version of Shakespeare performed by a single player. Players Tokyo is a Japanese English-speaking theatre group based in Tokyo, specializing in Shakespeare. Sato, the founder and main player, is a British-trained actor and studied Shakespeare in the UK.