Its Tragic to Treat Macbeth This Way; Sound and Fury: Witch Olwen Fouere and Rory Keenan as Macbeth

Daily Mail (London), March 7, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Its Tragic to Treat Macbeth This Way; Sound and Fury: Witch Olwen Fouere and Rory Keenan as Macbeth


Byline: JOHN MCKEOWN

Macbeth (The Empty Space, Temple Bar)

Verdict: Gimmicky style over Shakespearian substance **

THE trouble with Shakespeares Scottish play is that the decisive actionMacbeths murder of Duncan the Kingtakes place early on. The trick is to give the troubled killers descent intomental darkness some tragic grandeur or dignity. But director Selina Cartmellsproduction is full of tricks, and gimmicks, all deployed to nip any seriousemotion in the bud.

The resulting ironic Macbeth, who pulls out a hand-grenade in the final fightwith Macduff, is a figure of undergraduate humour.

Menace and horror, the plays main ingredients, are unfortunately diluted withsilliness and visual trickery. Theres no horror in Macbeths (Rory Keenan)murder of gracious Duncan (Gerald McSorley), kitted out as Duncan is in a whitecape and a bowler hat like a character from Sixties TV series The Prisoner.

Every time someone is murdered, the victim gets up and sprinkles dust aroundbefore helping move props or gliding offstage. This is more choreography thanslaughter. When Macbeths hired killer comically waves his chain-saw at LadyMacduff, you fear for a moment that hell launch into an ironic two-step. Its ajarring scene where tension is cut to pieces far more ruthlessly than thevictim.

Macbeth, trying to screw himself up to kill Duncan, wanders around the vast,dusty floor with, of all things, a scenic view of rippling lake water spreadacross the tasteful white curtains drawn across the mirrored back walls ofJean-Guy Lecats set. Macbeth is supposed to murder sleep and peace of mind whenhe kills Duncan, but the point is completely overstated by this recreation ofwhat looks like the foyer of a giant health spa.

The ensuing dagger scene is cut, and we hear over the speakers rather than seeMacbeths confrontation with the hallucinations that spur him to murder.

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