FRINGE – The Bunker Trilogy: Macbeth – The Bunker – 4K

Unlike the other two offerings in The Bunker Trilogy, Morgana and Agamemnon, Macbeth is not a modern rewriting of the story – the original Shakespearian text is used, the language retained. It is however presented in a contemporary manner with the action once again shifted to World War I. While this is an interesting backdrop against which to see it set, there does not seem to be as strong a connection with the time period; the story does not as successfully link with the lives of soldiers in the Great War.

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays, however, liberal cuts have been necessary to condense it into a sharp one hour show while not making the plotline confusing or losing the feeling and themes of the full text. For the most part, this has been successfully achieved by director Jethro Compton. Only a handful of major characters are retained, who interact with nameless, eerie, gasmask-clad bit players and disjointed voices on the end of a telephone. The witches are similarly portrayed, suggestive of their overarching influence on the actions of these other characters and the situation as a whole.

As Macbeth, Sam Donnelly powered his way through the text, creating a man haunted by his past, grappling with his present, and unsure of his future. His rapid, manic delivery suggested that he was being swept along from one spur of the moment decision to another; Macbeth appeared not to be entirely in control of himself, or the decisions he was making, and somewhat helpless to fight against his fate. At times however, this did not seem to leave space for the thought processes behind the text to be apparent or the reality of the decisions to be felt, particularly in some of the lengthier, well-known soliloquies.

Bebe Sanders was magnificent as Lady Macbeth. Her portrayal of a strong, ambitious woman, sure of herself and her deeds, managed to make her actions seem, if not justifiable, at least understandable. Compton’s direction was particularly inspired in this area, with the traditional scene of madness exchanged for a quieter final decent, and suggestions of a blacker power governing her actions adding another side to the character. In their multiple roles, Hayden Wood and James Marlow provide sound support, with Wood’s Banquo possessing a calmness that contrasted nicely with Macbeth.

This is a wonderfully creepy version of a widely read, performed and studied script. The choices that have been made with regards to editing are judicial, the interpretation and delivery original and often inspired, the acting commanding, and the design evocative.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

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