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Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Clown Macbeth

Ryukyu Cirque (Japan)

Genre: Dance and Movement Theatre, Physical Theatre

Venue: C Venues


Low Down

A very unique take on a Shakespeare classic of Macbeth using mime, dance, and music.


While it is not difficult to find an incarnation of a Shakespeare classic at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it is often difficult to find a new way of performing it. Using mime, dance, music, and sound Clown Macbeth by Ryukyu Cirque (Japan) have certainly achieved this.

Against a striking black and red set, an anamatronic clown changing his face and his moods, and a woman dancing expressionless, form the characters for the performance. The clown is impeccably executed most of the time, with the sudden change in facial expressions being incredibly skilled, though at times more precision is needed to keep it feeling slick and polished. The dancer moves with beauty and grace and radiates a deep sorrow despite her expression remaining unreadable, although I feel there should be more to this character if she is to convey a Lady Macbeth.

At times it is difficult to understand what exactly is going on, while some parts are obviously Macbeth others feel random and disjointed. The recognisable moments are interesting in the odd way they are being reenacted, seeing such familiar scenes portrayed  with no words provides a different perspective however it gets muddled amidst seemingly random episodes and the story is lost.

There is a lot of repetition which begins to lesson the impact of it’s cleverness and runs the risk of losing the attention of the audience. There are moments of being mesmerizing and intelligent however it is lacking somewhat and fails to reach the level it is aiming for.

The lighting is excellently done and the music is beautiful and really adds to the atmosphere which is generally nicely frightening though sometimes confused. It is kept wonderfully simple as not to overload the senses and this works very nicely, it is the content that needs fleshing out as it feels either over-simplified or over-complicated, it’s difficult to tell which.

Clown Macbeth is nightmarish and haunting, it just doesn’t quite hit the mark of being as polished, and exciting as it has the potential to be. However Ryukyu Cirque (Japan) is an interesting company with great potential and skill.