The Tragedie Of Macbeth and The Tragedie Of Hamlet
Hudson Hotel, Edinburgh, until Mon 17 Dec
Communicating Shakespeare’s contemporary relevance is always contentious. To draw links with modern day society or not, that is the question. Artistic director and actor William Mann, of ishakepeare company, is clear which side of the fence he’s on. ‘People make the mistake of thinking that everyone worries about politics,’ he says. ‘They do, but there are bigger, more important things. If your lover dumps you on the day of the general election you’re not going to go and vote. In our Shakespeare productions I want to concentrate on those essential motivations of human life; sex, love, death.’
Inspired by Japanese Noh theatre, Persian mystery plays and Greek tragedy, Mann certainly knows his stuff. He says that ‘parts of what Shakespeare wrote were drivel’, adding that in these productions the focus is the hero. ‘Nobody goes to Macbeth to see the Malcolm scene,’ says Mann. ‘They want to see Macbeth. I want to push the idea of ceremony. We use scarves to delineate character, and the audience can see the actors not acting, just off the carpet. The audience cannot hide behind anything, they have to think, and engage themselves emotionally.’
Performing Hamlet and Macbeth on alternate nights of the week, and with more of the Bard’s tragedies planned for the future, ishakepeare provides a constant Shakespeare fix. ‘The idea is: if you like what you see, come back for more.’ And with a Hamlet that claims to include ‘possibly the greatest moment in the history of theatre’ performed in a basement hotel bar, you’d be as well to take the chance.