Directed by Saro Lusty-Cavallari
Season: 29 November – 10 December
Macbeth! The Scottish Play! Shakespeare’s great work riddled with power struggles and gore and madness. Montague Productions takes on the show, directed by Saro Lusty-Cavallari, embracing the dreamlike elements of the show in a blurry whirlwind between illusion and reality. The play goes forth without an interval, with plenty of variety to keep you engaged throughout - however further clarity in sections of the play would enhance the communicability of Lusty-Cavallari's directorial vision.
Shakespeare's plays require both an emotional power and a technical dexterity in order to speak to contemporary audiences. While the stage presence of the actors tended to be quite strong, I felt that some of the spoken dialogue lacked precision and clarity. If the actors don't fully discover the distinct nuances within every line, you start to wonder why you're sitting there listening to a heck of a lot of text.
The production is strong in its use of spectacle to create a haunting dream-scape. One of my favourite images involved an actor emerging from a dripping vat of oil, tormenting Macbeth in his guilt-ridden state. The play best succeeds when engaging directly with humanity – be it through properly connecting to another person on stage, or creating discomfort or humour with the audience. Breaking of the fourth wall is employed excellently in this regard. Dealing with the logistics of character deaths on stage can often be difficult, and in a play like Macbeth, this challenge is inevitable. While the effect of some of the stage fighting was hindered by omitted noises at points of 'physical contact' and over-acted dying, some of the stage violence is incredibly chilling and quite a feat.
We are presented with a unique take on the witches’ roles, played as a single role by Lulu Howes, she is immensely childlike and yet somewhat menacing. Howes exposes an array of demeanours and qualities to the witches that proves intriguing to watch. Set and costume design by Lusty-Cavallari is monochromatic and the PACT theatre space feels completely transformed. Sheets of white ripple from floor to ceiling, giving the sense of a fluorescent spotlight being positioned on Macbeth in this story.
Shakespeare has laden Macbeth with an abundance of fascinating themes and ideas to be explored. Montague Productions jumps at the challenge of embracing the world innate to the text and shedding a unique perspective on the story. There is clearly inspiration and creativity bubbling in the work, but this could be honed for clearer expression of idea. Double, double toil and trouble, artistic fires are burning and you can see it bubble on the stage.