Bunker Trilogy: Macbeth
Challenging adaptation of The Scottish Play set in World War 1
This article is from 2013.
That the set is the centerpiece of The Bunker Trilogy is far from hidden: it’s where the trio of plays gets its name. Rows of benches two deep line the walls, creating a miniscule in-the-round stage with audience and cast sheltered inside a recreation world war one bunker – timber walls, tin roof and dirt floors included. It’s from here – amid healthy and frequent doses of theatre smoke – that a twisted, 20th century Macbeth reenacts his bloody ploys for power in the guise of a British officer, surrounded by a cast of minions dressed up like S&M gimps in their black plastic gas masks.
In some sort of mustard gas-induced hallucinogenic trip, the oft-told story of Shakespeare’s doomed thane flits back and forward between scenes, while 20th century soldiers speak in 17th century iambs. By far the most experimental Bunker play, Jethro Compton company’s staging is definitely not for Macbeth newbies. More than one member of the audience sat slumped in chin-in-hands positions, perhaps expecting some live version of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. That, it certainly is not, instead asking the audience to actively piece together key scenes amid loud bangs, flashing lights and aggressive actor-audience eye contact – an often arduous task.
Just four players make up the cast (who appear in all three parts of the trilogy), with the drama zeroed in on Macbeth and his Lady’s evil machinations and the resulting damage it does to their psyches – which the audience finds itself directly immersed in. It’s like watching a power-crazed Hitler pace out his final hours in his bunker as he realises the jig is up (wrong war, granted, but then it’s not Elizabethan Scotland either, is it?). Let yourself melt into the madness and it works fine; resist and you might find yourself asleep in the dirt.
C Nova, 0845 260 1234, until 26 Aug, 10pm, £11.50–£13.50 (£7.50–£11.50).