Dundee Rep. Thu 30 Sep—Sat 2 Oct: Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh. Wed 6 Oct

Macbeth goes inthane

MACBETH Dundee Rep, until Sat 25 Sep 0... Ambitious politicians who don‘t mind buying power with blood? Now why would we be doing Macbeth at the moment? Yet in a political culture in which bloodthirsty rapaciousness has taken over from law, international and otherwise, where forms of dissent are dealt with swiftly and sometimes unjustly at home and abroad, Dominic Hill‘s production for Dundee Rep doesn't look for easy ways out. The contemporary ideological parallels are there if you care to look, yet they‘re subtle and often more thought provoking for their understatement. The promotion of the Thane of Cawdor, his bloody assent to kingship and the demise through agencies both earthly and supernatural of him, his wife and kingdom are here given a very contemporary edge. Paul Blair‘s Macbeth, operating smoothly yet unendearingly in both Gulf War uniform and dinner suit, is an isolated individual from the start, not really displaying the soldierly ~ fraternity to Banquo (Barry Hunter), nor the passionate devotion to Lady Macbeth (Irene MacDougall) that we might conventionally expect. Instead, he‘s the nightmare of contemporary society - the alienated and atomised individualist run wild. The first half of Hill‘s production, which he pulls early at Act two, feels strong but pretty standard, complete with slightly sleazy Duncan (Thane Bettany) and impoverished witches (Ann Louise Ross, Emily Winter and Samantha Young), but in the second part, one feels the electricity of the concept. The grisly, almost casually committed murder of Lady MacDuff (Winter) involving a kiddies‘ paddling pool follows Macbeth‘s smooth politician‘s speech, partially performed in slow motion, while all the anger and passion of MacDuff is splendidly captured by Keith Fleming. Anthony Lamble‘s simple but very effective interior space encapsulates the contemporary neurosis that underlies this production, while Blair's strong, unlikeable Macbeth provides the detail that allows for not so much a soldierly last stand, as a disintegration into insanity. Irene MacDougall‘s outstanding Lady Macbeth is even more admirable for this, since the character‘s sudden descent into madness is a challenge for an actress even in a full length production. Here, in a foreshortened version, MacDougalI Dressed up gets the complex physical semiotics just right. Perhaps Ewan McDonald‘s Malcolm, a kind of nerdy apparatchik in this production, illustrates the faceless and weak men who can triumph in modern society, but Hill‘s concept takes some getting used to here. So too, the murder of Banquo (Hunter is . z' ' splendid in this role) occurring in voice-over offstage is a little mystifying. But on the whole, this is a v' ' .f-.- ' :l " 1' ' .v ': subtle, psychologically sophisticated Macbeth, well worth the admission. (Steve Cramer) ' :"v ' ' 1 ' : ' x

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