Macbain review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘self-indulgent’
A heavily stoned couple, identified in the programme as Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, attempt to have a coherent conversation between his repeated nodding off and her fits of giggles. Some stage smoke transports us into Shakespeare, and the two actors pop up from behind a couch like Punch and Judy to enact – badly – roughly half of Macbeth.
More smoke, flashing lights and sound effects and the modern couple are back, quarrelling about things like parents killing children, children killing parents, and spin dryers, with frequent but not particularly useful quotations from Macbeth. A glass ceiling over the set gradually lowers until it pins them under it, and the play stops.
I will admit to not being as immersed in the myths of Kurt and Courtney as some, and there are no doubt allusions and in-jokes (like that spin dryer?) I missed. But Shakespeare is not illuminated in any way by being filtered through Kurt and Courtney, nor do we learn anything about Kurt and Courtney through the Macbeth comparison.
The performances are clearly impaired by having to be in English and by too loose a directorial hand (if there was any), that allows too free a hand with silly voices, ad libbing and general messing about. The whole thing smacks of an opaque private language and to-hell-with-the-audience self-indulgence.
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