Thursday, 7 August 2008

"macbeth who is that bloodied man?" (Teatr Biuro Podròzy)

thursday 7th august 2008

MACBETH Who is That Bloodied Man?
(an outdoor performance, commissioned by : Cork European Cultural Capital 2005 and premiered in Cork, 20-25 of May)
Teatr Biuro Podròzy
Director: Pawel Szkotak
Music: Wiki Nowikow
Design: Teatr Biuro Prodozy and Iza Kolka
outside national theatre

It is based on William Shakespeare's "Macbeth". It tells of human fate determined by destiny and inner necessity. It shows the world during the horror of war, the world of nightmares, the world in blood, where it is legal to betray, to intrigue, to kill. It reminds you of the tragic consequence, that crime once committed will be continued, and man's death is not man's end - he comes back as fear, remorse and obsession. The performance portrays the world of chaos, where the order of nature is replaced by the logic of death. It takes place on the borderline of reality and nightmare, where earthly characters coexist with witches and ghosts. The inspiration to this performance is the attempt to see Shakespeare's drama as a crime myth. Particularly, nowadays when human life is of less and less value, and crime is becoming the ordinary act, rarely accompanied by indecision and doubts. The performance makes spectacular use of moving set, motorbikes, stilts and fire.

poles like tree trunks are lit by witches on stilts rattling clacker-boards
a bloody ruthless army of men in black leather on motorbikes pulling a variety of trailors incl the naked thane of cawdor in a cage
the dead in black on stilts
fire on poles
the youngest banquo cheeky on a toy bike, playing with the crown on a pole
great soaring operatic music
lady macbeth leeringly mad waving her torch and jumping the perilously red carpeted iron scaffolding
a comic scene with the servants climaxing in a apple-eating lovemaking scene
the witches on stilts chasing macbeth with a giant roller filled with skulls

later scenes lit behind the iron-guazed set we had to guess at cos we couldn't really see - lady macbeth's mad scene and then her husband finding her hanging behind a door, macbeth burning in the final scene

at its best it was dangerous and thrilling - the motorbike chases through the fire
alot of the time it was impressive but too often one-dimensional and static somehow - despite being an intensely physical show - too easy to 'read' and so too little for our minds

More the charred bones of Shakespeare's play than the flesh, Biuro Podrozy's 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. 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.
Lyn Gardner:
The Guardian 07/08/2007

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