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Macbeth at the Theatre Royal Windsor

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 9th Apr 2015 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

Macbeth may have been written over 400 years ago but, Tara Arts’ thrilling interpretation, notwithstanding Shakespeare’s sublime prose, could have been written last week.

Set within an extended British-Asian family (some with northern accents and wearing tweed coats over their traditional dress), director Jatinder Verma’s production explores the consequences of relentless ambition, and fanaticism such as that seen in the Taliban and ISIS.

But what is especially topical is the portrayal of the ‘Weird Sisters’ as transgenders. Louis Theroux may have made the headlines by investigating transgender children for his BBC series, but Hijras, or the third gender, have been around for thousands of years and are legally recognised in India where, appropriately for this play, they see themselves as part of the spirit world.

In this production, made in association with Queen’s Hall Arts, Hexham, and Black Theatre Live, they are bearded (as they were described in the original text) and brightly dressed in glittering saris, adding even more depth to an already colourful  presentation (especially if you like blood red!). As the witches, Deven Modha, John Afzal and Ralph Birtwell are mischievous rather than evil, but nevertheless intimidating even though their taunts and sinuous dancing raise many a smile.

As Macbeth, RSC actor Robert Mountford commands attention; Shaheen Khan really comes into her own when, as Lady Macbeth, she becomes mad, while Shalini Peiris is gloriously funny as the servant.

Just eight actors portray all the characters, making for a versatile and very capable company, but mention must be made of Rax Timyr, without whom this production would not be so special. Paul Bull’s sound effects and Hassan Mohyeddin’s compositions are stunning, but they are made even more so by Timyr’s musicianship. On stage throughout, his playing of the drums and cymbals, not to mention his beat-boxing (or vocal percussion) is exhilarating and fascinating. He deserves a show of his own!

Claudia Meyer’s set is simple but so effective. As in any Asian production, there are lots of bling, music and dance, a perfect antidote to the deadly deeds which are at the heart of the play. I loved it!

Macbeth continues at the Theatre Royal Windsor until April 11.

Box office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

It then continues touring:    

April 14-18: Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

April 21-25: Derby Theatre

April 28-29: Key Theatre, Peterborough

May 5-9: Harrogate Theatre

www.tara-arts.com

www.queenshall.co.uk

www.blacktheatrelive.co.uk

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