Macbeth: Venue Magazine - 13th October 2006

From the start, newly-formed thesps Splice leave you in no doubt of their plans for the Scottish Tragedy. Here is Lady Macbeth, sat in a plush hotel bedroom, watching her husband’s putsch unfold on CNN-style rolling news on a vast plasma TV. Yes, folks, Splice have stuck faithfully to Shakespeare’s script: they’ve simply transplanted it to a 21st century war zone and interspersed the onstage action with plenty of fancy-dan video stuff. And, while for a moment this jars fractionally (oho, a TV newsman reporting from the rubble in iambic pentameters – is this really gonna work?), you’re soon into the flow, and what unfolds is an ingenious, gripping show, which strips Macbeth of all its crusty canonic status and substitutes something far more visceral. The witches, for example, are reinvented as wanton, sexy chambermaids, sashaying archly around the Macbeths’ bedroom with their linen trolley and their dark forebodings. Video sequences are used judiciously, mostly as a series of premonitions to convey our hero’s growing unease. The hotel setting, too, is a brilliant conceit, its starched propriety making the violence and bloodshed all the more shocking. Impressive cast too: Robert Gwilym has a great hulking energy as Macbeth – brilliantly careworn as well, as if events have overtaken his willpower. Katharine Rogers is vampish and scheming as his wife (their real-life coupledom helps the sexual frisson), while Christian Rodska gives humour and ghoulishness by turns as the Porter and Banquo. Well worth seeing: wakes the sleeping ghost not just of Banquo but of ‘Macbeth’ itself. Steve Wright.


Macbeth: Metro - 10th October 2006 ****

Splice Productions’ Macbeth successfully shows how old classics can benefit from a little modern tinkering. The play is set in a 21st century war-torn land, where Macbeth (Robert Gwilym) is a general in combats and his wife (Katharine Rogers) a scheming manipulator in high heels with a penchant for reading Vogue. All the action takes place in a hotel suite. Changes of coloured rugs on the bed indicate whose room it is: Macbeth’s is blood red; Macduff’s a muted yellow. Relying on the same set might become a little tedious if it were not for some extremely sharp stage craft and clever directing. A huge plasma screen, which the witches manipulate to tell their wicked prophesies, is also used to show CCTV footage of action taking place in the rest of the hotel, drawing attention offstage. A mirror in the suite also turns ingeniously into a see-through glass windows through which we watch one of the grisly murders backstage (who said there was only magic and witchcraft in the text?) Gwilym, co-directing with Rogers, is superb as Macbeth, full of nervous ticks and neuroses. Despite Rogers’ descent into madness being a little too fast, the small cast of six make this a memorable reworking. Cat Davidson.

home - about us - productions - the dug out - splicers