Edinburgh Fringe Review: Macbeth: Who is that Bloodied Man?

Not content with the smearing of gruesome deaths and macabre psychotics already  inscribed into Shakespeare’s Macbeth, former Fringe First winners Biuro Podróży have wrenched open the Scottish play from the nave to the chops, spilling out with a splatter of blood its most disturbing and deadly insides. An explosive and extravagant outdoor re-telling, this Macbeth can offer a 100% guarantee that you will have never seen anything like it before.

Veiled pyromaniac witches in the uncanny guise of macabre nuns loom hauntingly over the audience on stilts brandishing sticks of fire. Meanwhile, enter the hailed Macbeth and his valiant friend Banquo, leather clad and zooming in on rather knocked up motorbikes a bit like Renaissance Teddy Boys. Reeking with the smell of burning, echoing with the sound of bangs and gun shots and doused in perennial danger, this really is Macbeth the health and safety nightmare.

More concentrated upon the visual money moments than Shakespeare’s text, the few famous quotes of the play spoken by the cast at times sit a little awkwardly against this hyperbolic staging, making Shakespeare’s language feel like the last layer of this production rather than its very foundation. However, so shockingly dark and spine-tinglingly warped is this production, I can’t help but feel that its innovation would quickly silence any outraged Shakespeare purist.

With little narrative help for the audience and the odd twisting of plotline, this Macbeth also probably requires a bit of audience homework before the event to avoid complete bewilderment at the events taking place on stage. Yet, even for the most ignorant of Macbeth attendees, this is nevertheless a breath-taking spectacle to behold that matches a medieval kind of ghoulishness with all the mechanistic brutality of the modern world. The horror of the football rattle-wielding weird sisters rising up like zombies against a torrent of gun fire; the naked Lady Macbeth wringing away the blood from her hands and Death’s chase of Macbeth with a cage of skulls were just some of the unforgettable moments of this production.

A dangerous rotten hotpot of a lot more than spew, slime and scandal than a bit of hubble bubble, toil and trouble, this is a Macbeth that is neither appetising nor approachable but which has all the raw viciousness and inhumanity of the original text by the blood-filled bucket full.

****- 4 stars

Macbeth: Who is that Bloodied Man? was at Old College Squad as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

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