The play of Macbeth was set in 1048 in Scotland and it was first performed in 1603. Macbeth is about a man who is told he will be king but in order to fulfil he kills the present king. This particular performance was modernised and although there are many characters in the play, only 3 actors took part in this performance.
There are many social issues raised in this play and many of them were portrayed strongly in this performance. One of these issues was that everyone has the ability to lie. This point was put across strongly and effectively, the audience was included by asking if anyone had ever lied to get out of troubles. Other issues raised are also shown through the character of Macbeth. These are that anyone can kill a second time, if they have already killed once, and the other is that people can put on an appearance that is not true. This is shown when Macbeth welcomes Duncan to his castle but later that evening kills Duncan.
The set up of this play was a pyramid in the centre of the audience that was made of a metal frame and had ropes around the outside like a climbing frame. The pyramid was used to represent the 3 countries included in Macbeth, Scotland, England and Ireland, the 3 witches, and also the 3 O’clock in the night when the porter opens the door drunk. When Macbeth became king, he was at the top of the pyramid, this demonstrated the olden day feudal system. The difference in levels between Macbeth at the top and the other characters at the bottom showed the difference in status.
When the characters were inside the pyramid their personalities became stronger, and the violence increased. The pyramid also helped them to move around easier and the actors could twist into different shapes. The stronger of the 2 fighters in the fight scenes was always nearer the top of the pyramid and this showed the status between the characters.
The music used in this performance was very eerie and included mixtures of past dialogue that came to the characters in dreams and visions. This music was used because it helped the audience to understand what was going on and it showed that the character was having a vision or hallucination. A good example of this is when the ghost of Banquo sits at the feast for the King Macbeth and frightens him.
When a child was murdered, a simple tune was played on a xylophone. Lisa was playing the child screaming mummy and the xylophone added to this to show that the child was now alone.
The lighting in this performance was also very simple and only four colours were used; blue for the moonlight; red for the blood; white for the day; green for the forest. The simplicity of these lights was very useful, as the audience always knew the time of day, the location and the atmosphere.
The language swapped between Shakespearean and Modern English. This was very effective because it helped us to understand it easier. The actors also came out of role and this helped us to understand it even more as they had a modern day argument.
At the start of this performance the movement was limited for Macbeth a he was in a straitjacket. The other characters walked around the pyramid and around Macbeth inside the pyramid, this was effective because the audience got to see things from different angles. Towards the end of the show, as the dialogue and violence increase the movement increases dramatically.
In this performance each character displayed their personality through their voice. Lisa, who played Lady Macbeth, used a very monotone voice throughout the performance. I do not think that this emphasised the changes in Lady Macbeth’s personalities and I only think it was effective at times. Sarah played many different characters but it was hard to tell when her character had changed because her voice was loud and aggressive all the time.
Sarah and Lisa were both wearing black and white, which was a good idea because they did not have to get changed when changing their characters. However, this made it hard to know when their characters had changed some of the time, but they did occasionally change their jackets. Joe wore a white straitjacket that was used as a metaphor for holding Macbeth’s evil inside him, when removed the evil came forth. The white represented the evil not purity.
The tension of task is Macbeth becoming king. Tension of intimacy was shown between Macbeth and his Lady when conspiring the death of Duncan. This created tension because the audience did not know whether Macbeth would agree to the murder, this shows shock of the expected within tension of surprise. Another tension of relationship is conflict shown between Macbeth and Duncan then Macbeth and Banquo and finally Macbeth and MacDuff. These characters are conflicted against each other because of the situations they are placed in.
The simplicity of the whole performance created focus mainly on Macbeth and the pyramid because it was easy to see who was speaking, where they were and also the props were always shown in and around the pyramid. There was one place of special meaning which was the top of the pyramid where Macbeth went when he became king.
If I were to change anything in this performance I would change the costumes so they were not too limited. I would also get the actors to change the pitch and tone of their voices more often so it would be easier to distinguish between the various characters. I would keep the pyramid as it brought lots of new ideas to me about Macbeth; it was also a very good idea as it represented the 3 that appeared many times in the play.