Sunday, March 13, 2011

REVIEW: Macbeth by Cheek by Jowl

Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts Lyric Theatre, Saturday (Matinee) March 12

This was a bloodless and daggerless Macbeth.

This Cheek by Jowl Macbeth by Declan Donnellan is an exercise of maximum minimalism. While the stark dark set, least props and uniform black costume may have exemplified Cheek by Jowl and Donnellan’s style, it was definitely to the detriment of the play. The style pilfered the much-needed range and variety that pushes the story and develops the suspense. The production was so tediously monochrome that when Kelly Hotten, as the perky and spiky porter, appeared on stage, the scene became a much needed diversion.

Will Keen’s Macbeth and Anastasia Hille’s Lady Macbeth were a good match in intensity and they bounced off each others character so well that it was difficult to think of one without the other. The killings in this production were done without any props. In the case of Lady Mcduff and her son’s murder, the killing and dying was left to the victims to act-out. With any lesser actors, they would have appeared like having epileptic fits.

There were some very effective moments; one of them was the banquet scene. Here, Judith Greenwood’s lighting effectively delineated and highlighted Baquo’s entrance. It was simple and yet the intent was clear and eerie. Another was the use of whispers and echoes over the witches’ voices, mirroring the state of disturbed minds.

This production was a journey deep into the dark crevices of Macbeth’s heart and mind instead of Macbeth’s tale of hero becoming a tyrant; and a tyrant getting deposed.

By William Shakespeare

Produced by Cheek by Jowl in a co-production with barbicanbite10; Les Gémeaux/ Sceaux/ Scène Nationale; Koninklijke Schouwburg, The Hague; Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg; Théâtre du Nord, Lille and Théâtre de Namur/Centre dramatique

Creative Team:
Director: Declan Donnellan
Designer: Nick Ormerod
Associate and Movement Director: Jane Gibson
Lighting Designer: Judith Greenwood
Composer: Catherine Jayes
Sound Designer: Helen Atkinson

Macbeth: Will Keen
Lady Macbeth: Anastasia Hille
Macduff: David Caves
Duncan/Scottish Doctor: David Collings
Porter/Lady Macduff: Kelly Hotten
Malcolm: Orlando James
Banquo: Ryan Kiggell
Thanes: Vincent Enderby, Jake Fairbrother, Nicholas Goode, Greg Kolpakchi, Edmund Wiseman

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At September 6, 2011 at 4:03 PM , Blogger Sheila said...

This minimalism reminded me of last year's The Turn of the Screw, whose dark set design seemed a proof of the existence of Quint and Jessel and somewhat limited the effect of ambiguity of the story.
BTW, welcome to my newly-started writings on the theatre in Los Angeles: Hope one day I can set my foot in London and even the Continent like you.

At September 6, 2011 at 11:00 PM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

HI Sheila! Thank you for your message. I think the Macbeth suffered from the minimalism, while The Turn of the Screw suffered from giving away too much too early... but what The Turn of the Screw had going for it was the fact that it has the glorious music of Britten and it was performed well by the singers and the orchestra :-)

Glad to see you are also blogging! GO GIRL!!! I look forward to reading what's on in that part of the world. The beauty of what we do is that we not only review but also keep some sort of a public record of artforms that is transient in nature. Concerts, plays, musicals are performed live and people who didn't go and see it will never be aware of what happened unless somebody reported it or wrote something about it... very different from a music recording or a movie that is immortalized in a cd or dvd... of course, one can record and put it up in youtube... but that will be an infringement of copyright! haha!


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