Flabbergast Theatre’s Macbeth is a visceral, crawling, clawing, earthy interpretation of the story of ambition, murder, and the power of suggestion. The audience arrives whilst the ensemble moves around the floor, screaming, laughing, and moving animalistically, while being interrupted by gongs. They are covered in clay and dust and are dripping – it certainly creates an uneasy space of possession or insanity. Costumes akin to straight jackets and a stripped-back set of dirty, bloody sheets suggests an air of brokenness and mania, a questioning of sanity. 

Credit: Michael Lynch

The play starts in chorus, the words of Shakespeare narrated through many voices in one. The performances are compelling, with the ensemble carrying the action forward through movement, chorus, puppetry, and clowning. Characters move in and out of the ensemble with ease. Macbeth (Henry Maynard) and Lady Macbeth’s (Briony O’Callaghan) relationship is utterly convincing at the heart of this piece. The evolution (or de-evolution) of their love as their actions take hold is portrayed beautifully, supported by movements being recreating but with a more sinister tone being particularly impactful.

I absolutely loved Dale Wylde’s Porter/Clown, creating truly hilarious moments, the essence of the character of the Porter. The children of the piece being played by puppets, highlighting their fragility is also masterful. 

No Macbeth is complete without the witches, and this performance brings something new and interesting. Its physical theatre creates a possessed, contorted, almost horror movie vibe mixed with choral speech. Also, possessing others, whispering and suggesting, shows their control over the whole piece. It work really well and is genuinely creepy. 

Credit: Michael Lynch

Repetition of ritual, in movement and with wine, punctuate important events, grounding the action. The use of wine serves as blood but also the self-destruction of Macbeth. Drumming, gongs, and bells create textured atmospheric soundscape. We also get beautiful, haunting vocals which move through the piece, eventually ending the piece in harmony as order is restored. The motif of spinning and turning, mirroring the witches’ words of the spell being cast, sets in motion something that cannot be undone.

The textures of this piece – clay to blood, in sound and light, physicality and word – are beautifully woven together to create a cohesive final performance. It is a really enjoyable interpretation, well-worth a watch. An interesting addition is an exhibition by Marina Renee-Cemmick, with original artwork based on the performance, on show at the Playhouse. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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