Lady Macbeth: Unsex Me Here review at Dance Base, Edinburgh – ‘elegant and eviscerating physicality’
Lady Macbeth doesn’t get the stage time and death scene she deserves; in the play, her apparent suicide is merely reported to Macbeth. Choreographer Kally Lloyd-Jones remedies this textual absence, giving the anti-heroine a backstory and afterlife of elegant and eviscerating physicality, set to a collage of music that includes Verdi, Vivaldi and Mozart.
Subverted notions of gender are at the dark heart of this work and Lloyd-Jones’ decision to use three male dancers in the role proves wonderfully slippery. We watch the trio apply feminine artifice like 17th-century players – spots of rouge, scarlet skirts.
This superficial transformation is the inverse of Lady Macbeth’s desire to replace inherently ‘female’ compassion and gentleness with the ‘manly’ ruthlessness required for regicide. The tensile strength of arrowing arms counterpoints a billowy fluidity.
That Lady Macbeth is refracted three times allows for an effective emotional expansiveness, especially when we see the seemingly swaddled baby whose blankets conceal only stones. The trio reveal different shades of grief – one slumps, chest concave with misery, while another frantically rocks the missing child.
Anger might animate this Lady Macbeth, but when the blood appears – so royally red you can practically taste the iron – riveting paroxysms of despair ensue.