The Curse of Macbeth

It is as inevitable as rain that each Fringe throws up new takes on Shakespeare’s Scottish play. In a city where nearly every native has studied the action at school, where a thousand other versions have been seen over the years, in which half the audience probably once appeared in, it there any point in trying to do something different? The answer provided by Cambridge ADC is a resounding yes.The Curse of Macbeth brings Gothic horror to the classic. Atmosphere is created from the start - on entering the Green Room in Hawke and Hunter, one has to walk past masked, menacing, knife-wielding thugs who hiss and leer. The set is simple, relying on a collection of mirrors which are by turn transparent and reflective. Simple costume touches, like the use of masks and blindfolds, allow cast members to change roles. This staging allows the witches to appear and disappear, and for the haunting of Macbeth to be rendered beautifully. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into getting all of this right, and the effect is mesmerising. It’s not often that you get to say that a small fringe production of Shakespeare looks stunning, but this one does.A lot of the much-loved dialogue has been cut to fit the play into an hour and ten minutes. But, while the pace is relentless, this does not get in way of strong development of character. The descent into madness of Macbeth and his wife particularly well-handled, as was the grief of Macduff and his wife. There is good rhythm to the production, which is very physical at times. I found myself wincing and gasping on more than one occasion as the battle and one-on-one fight scenes developed. Its not all dark tragedy though - in the linking sections the drunken porter is played for laughs - a nice touch which relieves the tension. This is not a version for purists. Some may think the mirrors a little gimmicky, and long for more of the speeches to be given in their entirety. But when a production is so well-rendered, creates such an atmosphere of menace and gets the story across in a visually exciting way, I can’t complain. The Curse of Macbeth is particularly recommended for anyone who as teenager longed for someone to make Shakespeare more exciting.

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The Blurb

From the company who brought you 2009's ‘Metamorphosis’. ***** (Edfestmag.com), ‘Visually stunning’ (Stage). A Macbeth like no other. Magic mirrors, breathtaking physical theatre and terrifying music combine in this classic's nightmarish reinvention.

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