MPTF 2014 Events

Citizen Reviews: Macbeth

A MAGNIFICENT PLAY Thiyam’s Macbeth. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan  

Dramatically powerful

Shakespearean plots are so dramatically powerful that they ooze into any ethos with none of their initial aplomb lost. Ratan Thiyam’s Macbeth glided between many oriental cultures and provided a fare full of richness and substance. The politics of war and violence and its aftermath were the strength and not the metaphysical curtains that the Scottish tragedy hides itself in. The alienation provided by the nurse and the wheelchair jolted most of the audience out of their reverie and set a thought process alight which ripped the embellishments of the play like dried skin and exposed the rawness of the pain which the people of the North-East have been enduring for many years now. The play was not about the craftsperson’s skill in designing lights, costumes or effective blocking, but it was about screaming aloud the depravity of a state towards its own people, hidden in brocades of rich classical theatre. Sometimes, it’s important to petition with a silk ribbon around it. Unfortunately, the generation brought up on American sitcoms, found it too difficult to sit through and kept disturbing the paying audience with loud talk of their embarrassing ignorance and more embarrassing disability to communicate with the truth.

Janani Narasimhan

T.Nagar

High on theatrics

M acbeth's interpretation and its link, as seen by the director, to contemporary corruption and debauchery is thought-provoking and appealing. The play was very high on theatrics and art form. The costumes, the props, the presentation of characters and the live music symbolised every aspect of Manipuri culture and its tradition. The wheelchair scene effectively depicted Macbeth as a disease and served as a time bridge between the ‘Macbeth’ era and contemporary times. The stage presence of the artistes was captivating and broke the language barrier. Though the audience was mature and appreciative, the organisers could have distributed handouts with paraphrases of the scenes, so that the expressions of the artistes could have been better appreciated. An excellent beginning to the Theatre Fest.

Sriram Iyer

Thiruvanmiyur

Uncharted territory

It was Macbeth of a different kind by the Chorus Repertory Theatre, Manipur.

Inclusiveness in the arts is to be commended and the production to be appreciated. The view here is that of a Chennai audience for whom the language was uncharted territory.

The statement at the start that one did not need to know Manipuri to appreciate it was a tall order.

It didn’t matter if costumes, music and gestures were ethnic. The octopus- like witches, their tentacles and their high-pitched wails set the tone all right. The sombre mood of the sets, half-dark stage and murkiness gelled perfectly.

Characters come to life through dialogue, soliloquy and ranting. For the audience, that experience was not there, as language certainly became a barrier. Language can be transcended in dance and music. The level of appreciation of theatre when the language is not known becomes a tad low. It is neither mime nor theatre as we know it.  

Geetha Iyengar,

Alwarpet

Relevant themes

How the story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is very relevant in today's context has been well brought-out by a fascinating dramatic presentation by Ratan Thiyam.

Gliding bodies, exquisite costumes, well-focused lighting and excellent rendition of the script said it all, laying bare the greediness of the human mind and showed to what depths it can sink.

The gleaming sword wielded by Macbeth revealed a mind plunged in darkness. His dark attire enhanced the portrayal of the sick mind's ugliness. Every actor performed well and their movements were almost poetic.

The background music was superb — it thundered, tantalised, soothed and captured the shifting emotions. As a whole, Macbeth showed that a well- crafted and neatly executed play can transcend the language barrier and make an impact. And, when you leave the hall, there is a lingering feeling that knowledge of Manipuri would have made one absorb the richness of this magnificent play in full.

S. Murugappan

T Nagar

The hills are alive

Uninformed and ill-equipped with any knowledge of Macbeth, my take on the play was like this: The play opens with evil-looking creatures confronted by two generals. One of them turns out to be Macbeth. Egged on by his wife, who sounds very ambitious, Macbeth goes on a murdering spree, but is soon caught up with guilt and is finally undone in a war.

For someone who relishes theatre through dialogues, it was a different experience appreciating theatre through some simple music and movement alone. The primitive-sounding music of the drums and flute and the tribal props used, recreate an invisible landscape of the hills and forests of Manipur. The language, to the unfamiliar ear, sounded at times like Sanskrit in its intonation and, at times, like Telugu in delivery.

Three murders, that form the fulcrum of the audience's theatrical expectations, were staged in the play — one was symbolic, another indicative and the final one, elaborate. Lady Macbeth easily steals the show, initially with the bright colours of her ambitions, the sharpness of her resolve and finally, fading away with guilt. A quick perusal of Macbeth's plot summary, I feel, could have helped me appreciate the play better. It would be better if viewers were fore-informed.

Vijaysagar, 

Tiruttani


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