Macbeth, Connaught Theatre, Worthing: 'Marmite' production proves enthralling
Marmite is how director Mary Swan describes her highly-physical reimagining of Shakespeare's Macbeth, set in London in 1987, when Black Monday hit the stock markets, post storm.
What she means, of course, is that it is a love / hate thing, and that was clear from Friday night's performance at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing.
Some people hated it so much, they left within half an hour. Some could not wait to get away as soon as the curtain came down on the first half.
But most of us were enthralled at this dynamic yet sensitive production, with some brilliant characterisations and some intriguing role pairings, seeing as five actors were playing all the parts between them.
A few stayed for the question and answer session afterwards and a big round of applause must go to Worthing Theatres for facilitating this. It really opened our eyes to the thought processes behind the performances and it was interesting to hear direct from the cast.
One thing we learned was how improvised each performance has been. Though they have kept Shakespeare's original text, the way they play out the scenes means it goes differently each time they go on stage. That challenges the actors and they seemed to really enjoy that challenge.
Kudzanayi Chiwawa, plays Lady Macbeth and, as Mary points out, that is actually only a small part in the sense she has very little lines. She is on the stage a lot, however, and that has given Kudzanayi the chance to really listen to the script. Her challenge, she says, is to show the massive decline in Lady Macbeth's state of mind without really having any lead into it.
Adrian Decosta gives a moving performance as Macduff and mirrors it with a Grace Jones style Lennox, complete with high heels.
He told us it was good finding new ways of doing Shakespeare and said the shoes were his idea.
Adrian said: "You have to have a sense of now and new learning. It is our role and our responsibility to continue that."
Each member of the cast showed their versatility and the often slow pacing of the lines was really effective, particularly from Hassan Maarfi as Macbeth.
Setting it in the financial world in the 1980s meant at times the lines didn't seem to quite fit but, then, it made you listen all the harder. The intention was to 'push through to the meaning of the words', and that did work, with music from the period to add to the drama.
It was inventive, challenging and vivid. It made us think, and that is what they set out to achieve.