Friday, July 13, 2012

Macbeth: LEΪLA & BEN - A Bloody History -Review- Northern Stage

Macbeth: LEΪLA & BEN - A Bloody History
Northern Stage
12 June 2012

Writers: Artistes, Producteurs and Associes.
Adapted: Lotfi Achour, Anissa Daoud and Jawhar Basti.
Director: Lotfi Achour.
Reviewer: Michael Hunter
Stars: 4/5

As I have stated in my last review, I am some-what still a novice at this Shakespearian thing. I know about the plays and the comedies, but I haven't seen that many in the flesh! Macbeth was one of them!
So having to be faced with that , and the fact that this play, one of his most simplistic of The Bards writings (In the little knowledge of him that I do have) would be played out in an Arab Spring style with surtitles, had me worried a little, but excited at the same time!
This Macbeth is part of the World Shakespeare Festival of 2012, and I am sure Northern Stage are delighted to have Artistes, Producteurs and Associes in town.
The tale of Macbeth is played out by Leila and Ben. The Leila and Ben (Ali) that fled Tunisia after Government protests in 2011.
The tale from Ali's birth in political terms, to the end of his grizzly reign is documented on stage with actors performing in their own tongue, with a massive AV screen behind them (that actually doubled as their exit scene after scene) pushing out the words by using surtitles
It totally mirrored what the original was saying but in a new contemporary fashion.
Now you know me, I have often spoke on the topic of contemporary tales, not really being my cup of tea.
We all mess with something old and turn it into something a bit too crass, and this had me in that state of mind too.
It felt disjointed, too much going on, too much going on in your face almost!! When you watch a foreign film on tv/dvd you soon get used to the subtitles being there.With this adapted tale, there was too much at once, sometimes I couldn't keep up with them and would have to fill in the blanks with a little guess.
The scenes acting out their brutal reign were fragmented with AV videos of eye witnesses and people betrayed, imprisoned and brutally dictated. These videos seemed rushed with spelling mistakes often appearing.
It was a visual spectacle, with singers singing for the love of their leader, to almost God like status coming from their band of followers and hangeronerers.
From his height to his lows in not only power, but human mood. With Leila pulling all of the strings in their relationship, and tearing at his lack of hunger for job, the dictator had a steady slant towards the end.

As we were leaving our seats after the performance (no interval) a few other reviewers decided that we didn't really like it, all echoing it's lack of anything bar a head hurting experience (not the phrase I was going to use).

But you know what I am soooo sooo glad that I slept on the review. It has given me time to reflect, to put all of the pieces together and to be honest read up on the original Macbeth!
I can't stop thinking about it! When I need to concentrate on something else it pulls me back in, Every time I do think about it it makes me re-examine all of the bits that were a bit frayed, and join them back in a jigsaw shape in my mind and words.
Speaking to my review friend and my +1, we both (it was probably at the very same time) suddenly got it, and have been talking it up all day.
You know what, that is good theatre in my books. If it can surge through your bones, and wont leave until you have totally understood, then neigh on top marks.
I am now buzzing about!
I cant wait to read the third reviewers review..I wonder if he has suddenly got it too.
The acting was first class through out, they came over here to wow us with their skills and you always felt  confident that there would be no slip-ups.
This is going to dance in my brain, albeit it with hob nail boots on.
Go on give it a try, it mightn't be your cup of tea at first, but it could grow until you want to burst!

Macbeth: LEΪLA & BEN - A Bloody History is playing until 14th 

Michael Hunter

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