Arts Review: Macbeth


Dir. Jack Cameron, The Art School, 7-9th of December

STaG return to The Art School with another addition to their repertoire works by William Shakespeare. As the audience take their seats, intense music plays with low, ominous lighting. Alongside an excitingly dark programme, brandishing superb photographic artwork on the front with Macbeth’s bloody hand wrapped around the stomach of Lady Macbeth, already the atmosphere is dripping with tension.

Earlier in 2015 Glasgow was treated to Filter’s Macbeth, a radical and unapologetic transformation of the thrilling tragedy, pushing the boundaries of Shakespearian theatre.  For anyone who missed it, the performance consisted mainly of a number of musicians on stage dressed in casual clothing playing electronic sounds. From the opening of STaG’s production of Macbeth it was clear that the same radical energy would flow through the veins of this interpretation of the play. Immediate attention was called upon from the audience as the opening scene exploded into life with loud electronic music and flashing lights. The energy from the heavy, heart-pounding sound was cleverly employed to portray the power and influence of the iconic witches.

The uneasiness of the plot is laid bare from the beginning, from the despair of Lady Macbeth (Hanni Shinton) to the boiling fury of Macduff (Raymond Wilson). Sam Skoog shows great confidence on stage in the title role, managing to hold and control the audience, with moments ranging from deep sincerity to manic recklessness. He masterfully portrays all the turmoil of Macbeth’s journey. The entire cast complement each other throughout the performance, demanding a silent concentration of the audience during the gravity of Banquo’s (Tom Rouvray) infamous scene with the Porter (Ryan Rutherford) providing welcomed laughter and light relief.

The use of costume works alongside the dark emotive climate of the play with every member of the cast dressed in a variant of black and white. Alongside the minimal use of props and scenery the eyes of the audience are drawn to the bloody red that stains the hands and shirt of Macbeth.

Director Jack Cameron, and all involved in the performance, have produced a powerful, haunting, and stylishly modern production of a Shakespeare classic, with plenty of blood, knives, and a can of Tennent’s to complete the Scottish play. Not only an exceptional piece of student theatre but a powerful addition to this seemingly timeless Scottish play.

[Rob Cardew]

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