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Fringe Online 2021

The Macbeths

Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow

Genre: Drama, Fringe Film, Fringe Theatre

Venue: Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow

Festival: ,

Low Down

We begin in the dressing room, preparing for the onslaught. Once we enter the stage, we have the conversations of familiarity which are interspersed with the compelling camera work to keep us intently focused on the relationship between the two protagonists. In turn the most famous scenes between them and some lines form the solo scenes are delivered until the final denouement of her madness and his downfall. We then have the longshot as we come out from above and leave the two in a post tragic glow in bed. And then back to the dressing rooms, to return us to the normality with which we entered.


There is a danger in taking any classic and manipulating it for some artistic purpose that those unfamiliar with the story shall struggle to understand what the point of it all may be. You can see why the story of our two principals in the “Scottish” play get such over the top treatment and here the intensity of their symbiotic relationship is laid very bare. It means that it neatly sidesteps any issue of now knowing what it is that is going on as the exposition in the lines at the start, leave you with little doubt as to what is their murderous intent and to what purpose it is being plotted.

Dominic Hill has directed us into an intensity which recognizes we have cameras and shots to gather. It adds to the beauty and the gore as we have two people upon whom the other clearly depends not just for support but for endorsement in a way which truly frightens.

The exploration of that marriage of intentions sparkles at times as Keith Fleming and Charlene Boyd rescue them from the hackneyed Fred/Rose trope that can feel tempting. The acting however has pitched itself directly in the gore and passion side of uncomfortable. Given that the regicide is followed by further homicide, and it plays in front of us, the material with which they have to conjure should be an adequate platform for the magic. Having had a theatrical run of this piece it is the relationship between the two actors which is at the heart of the success of this. The look, the nod, the concern, the worry and the falling apart happen with one managing to give the other both the room and the platform for their performances.

Having taken the piece to the Beacon Arts Centre for filming was clearly done for practical reasons as this would have been such a magnificent performance in the Grande Olde Dame of the Citz. It just manages to entice you in, manipulate your thinking and deliver enough blood in which we can all bathe.

The technical work which has accompanied this was fantastic. If the camera work managed to focus us, the attention to the detail within such a short space and with so little apart from a bed and a busy abattoir level of blood added to the claustrophobia. There was also the beauty of the voices of the witches being on tape recorder.

What works best about this, in my humble opinion, is that it retains its theatricality, holds onto its literary merit and still recognizes that it is a medium without a live audience but one that clearly benefited from having one close to hand. It triumphs in so many levels and makes you realise why this work is open to manipulation and it is not a liberty but a necessity to pry such texts open and imbibe them with new approaches.