Foul Play’s production of Macbeth masters the art of innovative theatre, provides a feast for the senses and delivers a unique approach to a classic Shakespearean tale.
Director Yasmin Gurreeboo has made many bold decisions, endowing her audience with both the task and the intelligence of keeping up with this brave, stylistic production that continually goes outside the square.
The warehouse performance space at Plant 1, 18 Park Terrace, Bowden, lends itself to the cold, heartless environment of a lock up institution and whether it is intended to be a prison or an asylum, either way, it works and adds volumes to the atmosphere, intrigue and echoes of a inhumane industrial production line.
The three witches are confined to separate cells as the audience enters the venue and the magic begins. In a directorial stroke of genius Macduff, Banquo and Ross inhabit the roles of institutional guards, establishing a territorial ritual akin to the night watchmen, claiming the space and delivering their lines as commands and instructions.
Breaking convention from the outset paves the way for engaging creative solutions throughout the production. The witches double as Malcolm, Fleance and Lady Macduff, serving to keep the audience on their attentive toes and stretch the boundaries between what’s real and imagined, while exquisitely foreshadowing the diminishing and questionable mental capacity of Macbeth.
The provocative and often menacing nature of the three witches is amplified as they traverse the space through imagined walls, penetrating the mind of a troubled Macbeth, who faces the agony and irony of extremes, in one moment comforted in their arms and force-fed by them in another. And in much the same way, the misappropriation of authority is implicit in the treacherous and deceptive calculations of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. We watch their power hungry dreams turn into nightmares of murder and madness all the way to the gut wrenching demise of Macbeth’s walk of death.
It is fascinating to witness an all female cast and then an all male cast performing the same material. Like a laboratory experiment investigating the nurture/nature theory, the innate impulse of the female toward introspection and emotion juxtaposed with the male tendency toward externalising violence dominates the physical space while the female aspect dominates the mind.
With seamless transitions from reality to dream states and from one character to another, the entire cast performs like a well-oiled machine. Special mention must go to Jacqy Philips and Patrick Frost for their inspired renditions of Macbeth and every cast member fulfills their role with poetic brilliance.
This stand out production of Macbeth is not to be missed. Foul Play provides a clear, insightful and profound interpretation of this noteworthy play and earmarks a certain future for this emerging professional Theatre Company.
Macbeth performs until 9 February at Plant 1, 18 Park Terrace, Bowden.
© Patricia Herreen 2014