MPTF 2014 Theatre

Citizen Reviews: Macbeth

A SYMPHONY IN BLACK AND RED Macbeth. Photo: K. Murali Kumar  

Aural and visual treat

Love has no language. It is the same with greed. You don’t have to know Manipuri to understand Ratan Thiyam’s aural and visual treat. The drums, the music, the songs, and the dances, they leave you longing for more.

The sheer magic of movement is celebrated in the rhythm of the eerie witches, the majestic King Duncan, the funny messenger and the devious Lady Macbeth. The supremely talented Chingkheinganbi transfigures herself into the proverbial Eve who seduces and manipulates her husband to do evil when she plots the murder of the King.

The modern hospital scene stood out like a sore thumb and the directorial interpretation of Macbeth as a disease was lost on the audience, yet you will gasp for breath when the King is murdered, lose your mind in the chaotic aftermath and stand up to applaud when Macbeth is killed, such is the powerful imagery. In the end, it was the Bard’s darkest tragedy recreated in all its macabre Manipuri glory!


Murderous desires and distress

Great stories have a way of surviving through centuries in the minds of people. It was endearing to see the Metroplus Theatre Festival 2014 end with a brazen riot of cultures smashing into each other producing one such story; the much loved Shakespearean work, Macbeth. To distil out the most potent scenes from this classic tragedy and to present it in a brave and outlandish manner was a commendable task in itself. The interplay between the various characters was coloured by commonplace features of psychological distress, greed, political motives and murderous desires and spoke to the audience through emotions that bubbled and frothed out of them. Resembling the original work, the incorporeal veil around Thiyam’s adaptation remained resolute throughout the play but not without placing the locus of attention to the questions that are constantly churned up in today’s societies. On one hand, as the crowd is jolted back to reality when all that Macbeth personifies is portrayed as a disease boring into our “modern” minds, the other shows us that much can be learnt from being exposed to the rich tradition of theatre from ever so often neglected regions of the world fraught with internal as well as external turmoil. In moments such as these, what we experienced was just the right prescription.

In all, a bare stage left room for a bare mind to absorb an elaborate schema of staging which the group managed to pull off quite effectively. Elaborate costumes, convincing props, ethereal vocals and foot thumping background music spoke of all the hard work that was put into producing such an exquisite play which, in the end, was more than just Macbeth.


Irresistible truth

The MetroPlus theatre fest must have saved the best for the last with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The play is a brilliant interpretation of the age old drama paralleling the society we live in today where young and old are plagued by the most dangerous disease human.

What could be the most contagious and infectious parasite to take over the human mind? An ambition. The ambition which is based on an idea to reach a goal, which is so fully formed, that it corrupts the mind into believing is importance and sees nothing beyond its selfish motives. A disease so dangerous, that no cure has an effect and ends only with the infected person drowning in a self-created abyss.

Macbeth presents us with an idea which the society as a whole must take a step back to think about. Kudos to the team for planting such an idea.


Macbeth on mute

This is the first time that I watched a play in a language that I did not understand. It was a new and interesting experience. Despite the language barrier, the play left an impression, underlining the idea that theatre could do without language. After the play, I returned with pictures of black and red, intricately and carefully prepared props and costumes, a play of light and the sound of drums. It was a totally new interpretation of Macbeth for me, as if someone were performing a Macbeth mime or on mute.

The gloom and doom in Macbeth was effectively captured by the use of subtle and shadowy lights and black and red, and ably supported by a mournful lilt of music and resounding drums to indicate the war and chaos.

Chingkheinganbi was good as Lady Macbeth and her final act where she tries to wash the blood off her hands was interesting.

But given that the play was being performed in a city that was not as familiar with Manipuri, director Ratan Thiyam could have ensured that his team of actors always faced the audience, so that they could see the expressions and follow the course of the story, at least partly. Theatre is not only about dialogues and music, but also about expressions. It would also be good for troupes from other States to focus on expressive plays, when they perform away from home.


Cauldron of emotions

Is it loosely based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth? A little bit of yes and a little bit of no. The play can be considered as one of the best ever to be staged in Bangalore at least in terms of the basic message – human greed and the after effects of such a plague.

Over the play’s duration, the actors churn up a cauldron of emotions — from shaky uncertainty to bold determination. But, in the end, they are upstaged by a beguiling bouquet of blood-red roses and some stage magic. For the first few scenes, those crimson blooms, dramatically spot lit at dead center stage, provide a burst of colour beyond black, which is the shade of the set.

Macbeth revolves around human desire as a disease in our society so corrupt that it corrodes the mind and explodes into a spiralling epidemic. It deals with measures to counter it, limit its spread and how to prevent it followed by the bitter failure. But, of course, it’s Macbeth. The show portrays little sign of the froggy-throated hoarseness that often pocks all of the stage performances. As Macbeth, the play talks the talk and walks the walk — straight to hell.


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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 3:08:25 PM |

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