Posts Tagged ‘shakespeare’

I would have liked my first post in months to be something nice, but we can’t always get what we want. So on we go.

I was doubtful when I read the description of the Teatr Pieśń Kozła (Song of the Goat) production of Macbeth on the Brighton Dome website. Something about the way they emphasised music and ‘muscularity’ made me hesitant, but I went anyway. It’s been a while since I saw any theatre, and I do love me some Shakespeare. Then I saw the sign on the door of the Corn Exchange that said the production was an hour and five minutes long.


In an hour and five minutes.

At this point I knew something was terribly, terribly wrong, but I’d already bought the ticket, so I figured I might as well give it a chance. The director spoke to us before the production started, saying that the production had been created for Polish audiences and that was why the emphasis was on musicality, and also that a cast member had recently been injured so they’d had to adjust some staging. He seemed weirdly apologetic, and now I see why.

When I go to see a production of Shakespeare, it’s because I want to see Shakespeare. I do not want to see someone’s oblique interpretation of what Shakespeare might be like if his work was written and staged by a schizophrenic 10-year-old.

It seems like the idea of a rank amateur, thinking they’re going to totally re-imagine Shakespeare. Doing it straight up is for unimaginative plebes, I guess, which is presumably why the production was mostly musical and used only a fraction of the text. This is not to say that a Shakespeare production has to use every bit, or even most of it. It’s just that if you’re going to cut out the vast majority of Shakespeare’s text, you damn well better have something interesting to put in its place. And if, instead of this, you have your actors prancing around onstage, singing in groups, and doing vaguely symbolic choreography, it becomes difficult for even someone who’s familiar with the text to figure out what the hell is going on.

I can see now why the production was only an hour long, since even that seemed like an eternity of silly choreography and slightly disconcerting appropriation of Asian aesthetics. The actual story seemed rushed through in between interpretive dance segments, so that it felt more like a revue than a play. Maybe that was how it was supposed to feel, but the whole thing seemed so disjoined that it put me off.

It wasn’t all bad. Some of the harmonising and singing was quite nice. The use of the female voices during the murder of Banquo was interesting and a bit chilling (even if it did bring to mind Quentin Tarantino films). But the production was inconsistent, and a lot of the talk-singing and really mannered acting just clunked. In the future, I think I’ll stick with the RSC.


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