A daring, dexterous and thoroughly entertaining piece of storytelling.
The bare bones of the production provide much of the show’s strength; every element is thoughtful and considered. Not only are the puppets deployed with serious skill amid intricate set piece scenes, but each one is a beautiful work of hand-drawn art. Central characters have charisma and individuality, and the attention paid to architecture and scenery adds unexpected depth to what could easily be a two-dimensional rendering of the Macbeth story. The original music is brilliant, as is the use of foley which is capable of provoking, at turns, gasps and chuckles in the audience due to its realism.
While the mechanics of the performance are praiseworthy in their own right and provide the solid base from which the story can be told, it is in their combination that the piece is at its most vivid. The performance is always slick, and always engaging, but sometimes just the right balance is struck between all the aspects of the production. Highlights include the opening passage – following the title sequence – which sees the witches assert their presence and begin to interfere with Macbeth, the murder of King Duncan (which is really quite gruesome) and the show’s wickedly clever finale. The climax is especially impressive; in the performance I saw the audience was completely swept along with the energy and inventiveness, and rewarded the company with a standing ovation. Occasionally the enthusiasm and forward drive of the piece rushes us through important moments with the potential for confusion amongst audience members unfamiliar with the plot of Macbeth but - as in the concluding scene - this pacing is far more often rewarded than not.
Rich with mysterious atmospherics and dark, punky humour, The Paper Cinema’s Macbeth is a daring, dexterous and thoroughly entertaining piece of storytelling.