Macbeth @ Belfast International Arts Festival Review

The infamous and consequential tale of political ambition, Shakespeare‘s tragedy Macbeth, renowned for its quietly sinister, psychological deterioration of both leads, articulates the ascension of, and inevitable downfall of a power hungry general – the basis of which can be traced back to a prophecy expressed by the famous three witches.

Inspired by the tragedy, Zoe Seaton of Big Telly Productions directs a condensed version of the tragedy, playing at just 75 minutes long. Adapted for our ‘new normal’, the production plays out via Zoom – the new digital stage, as viewers are invited to participate at particular points of the production. Although a play steeped in isolation, any attempts to make the performance interactive is grasped – timely, as now more than ever, the feeling of isolation is prevalent, community and connection aspects of society we need to see more of.

Company members Nicky Harley, Dennis Herdman, Aonghus Og McAnally, Lucia McAnespie and Dharmesh Patel lead a digitally creative adaptation of the production, the cast multi-rolling amidst a multitude of green screen backgrounds from desolated grounds, households and palaces, the incorporation of audience members within particular scenes and the placement of cameras delivering differing angles – giving Macbeth at points a TV drama aesthetic – brilliantly stage managed by technical stage manager Sinead Owens, with support from production manager Giles Stoakley and creative consultation from Martin Collett.

What’s apparent is the enthusiasm of the cast, who work effortlessly together despite locational differences, to bring the tale together. However, I miss the sinister, tense atmosphere synonymous with the tragedy – this in part due to the duration as we as the viewer aren’t given the time to gradually follow the leads on their tumultuous journey. A creative response to 2020, especially linking the daily political briefings we currently face with the play’s themes. An ambitious project responding to our digital age of theatre.

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Macbeth was streamed as part of Belfast International Arts Festival from Wednesday 14th until Saturday 17th October 2020. To find out more about the festival, visit here…

Macbeth is currently available via Creation Theatre from Wednesday 21st until Saturday 31st October 2020. To find out more and book tickets, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop