Macbeth and Midsummer Night's Dream by Flabbergast Theatre Company

Macbeth and Midsummer Night's Dream by Flabbergast Theatre Company


Posted 2023-09-18 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Thu 14 Sep 2023 - Sat 25 Nov 2023

Doing Shakespeare like you've never seen before, Flabbergast Theatre Company is touring the UK with a tragedy and comedy from the bard. I saw them starting with Macbeth before they moved on to %%A Midsummer Night's Dream.%5

Heralding from Poland and Edinburgh Fringe regulars, the company promises a more aesthetic performance. The actors have a grounding in clown, puppetry and immersive theatre and they use that in their adaptations of Shakespeare, the first they have done using narrative text.

I caught The Tragedy Of Macbeth at Malvern Theatres in September before the cast returned to do Midsummer Night's Dream from November 21 to 25.

Macbeth opened with the cast all caked in mud, rolling around on the floor and making heavy breathing sounds. All wearing similar long tunics, it was hard to determine who would be Macbeth, shown below, and his manipulative wife.

I must admit, I wasn't sure of this version at first. It's busy, noisy and the actors seemed like they were overcompensating with agitated and over pronounced movements. But as I settled into what Flabbergast was about, it offered something fresh and unusual.

Faithful to Shakespeare's text, Henry Maynard is a towering presence as Macbeth. There's touches of a Viking warrior about him. By the closing scenes, his clothes and beard are stained with wine and the many other liquids thrown about in this performance. It feels very real and gritty in all its energy and sweatiness.

Opposite him is the impressive Vyte Garriga as Lady Macbeth. She portrays well all the ambition and cunning of Macbeth's wife plus there's good chemistry between her and Maynard. Her final fate is met with extended silence from Macbeth that draws out the emotion of the tragic moment.

There were many schoolchildren in for the performance (obviously on this year's GCSE syllabus) and the interactive elements seem to really grab their interest. Dale Wylde, whose background is a physical theatre performer, plays the porter with zest and a tiny party hat.

Similar to how the RSC updated the porter's comedy scene with a Stewart Lee rewrite this year, this production does away with the words and sees Wylde play with the audience instead. It went down particularly well.

What's different about this version is how earthy and raw it feels. People spit at each other in anger, breathy speeches come with clouds of dust shimmering in the darkness and there's war-like banging of drums.

The cast writhe around each other and there's a lot of gurning. Interestingly, the production's choreographer Marie Gabrielle Rotie also worked on movement for the popular TV series The Witcher and film The Northman, which has similar nods to Viking styles.

It won't be for everyone and I noticed a scattering of older audience members didn't return after the interval.

But for those who want to see Shakespeare done in an alternative way, Flabbergast offers something new, visceral and savage in their Macbeth.

Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 stars.

262718 - 2023-09-17 07:20:56


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