Friday, September 19, 2008

Motorcycle Macbeth.

"By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes"-Act IV, scene i

By Lyn Gardner Via: The Guardian
"More the charred bones of Shakespeare's play than the flesh, Biuro Podrozy's Macbeth: Who is that Bloodied Man? outdoor spectacle leaves the acrid smell of burned bridges in your nostrils. It is one long and exhilarating blast of images wrapped around thundering music, licking flames and wafting smoke.

Lady Macbeth's body is found hanging behind a closed door; the witches lurk among the trees assaulting your ears with football rattles; Macbeth plays tag with a stilt-walking Death and a huge barrel of his victims' skulls. The great trick of this Polish company's approach is to make the play seem both medieval and utterly contemporary, conjuring the bloody dictators of the past half-century without ever mentioning any names. It is cleverly general and specific at the same time, giving the audience room to impose their own meanings.

We first catch sight of Macbeth and Banquo riding motorcycle and sidecar in the wastelands of war, while back at headquarters strategies are planned and naked prisoners killed. The weapons of these gun-toting macho warriors prove useless against the veiled figures of the three witches, who survive bullets like some particularly nasty aliens.

"Screw your courage to the sticking-place"---Lady Macbeth, Act I, scene vii

There is little text, and the compressed story sometimes feels like it hurtles from vaulting ambition to madness and death in a twinkle. Nevertheless this show still manages to be subtle in its depiction of life under the dictatorship of the Macbeths. The immediate tensions between Macbeth and Banquo are well drawn and there is a wonderful scene in which the domestic becomes tarnished by death as Duncan's bloody sheets are hung out to wash at almost the same time as Banquo's murder.

The piece's imagery is cleverly thought out: beginning in a wasted forest, the charred tree trunks are felled as Macbeth's victims are dispatched and rise again at the end to become Birnam Wood advancing upon the castle. Banquo's son plays a pivotal role, a ghostly vision of the future who playfully haunts the present and who, in the final moments, climbs through the burning castle to retrieve Macbeth's crown for himself. It's a production that shows this magnificent Polish company at its best, and a reminder that large-scale outdoor theatre really can be thoughtful, as well as an eyeful."

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