Hilary Chan spends an evening reviewing BoxedIn’s production of Macbeth in the StAge.
The thrilling success of BoxedIn Theatre’s Macbeth is due to a triad of insightful artistic sense, strong actors and brilliant theatrical design. This production plays out Shakespeare’s gory classic in a corporation: on the 100th anniversary of the family-run Colmekill Inc., everyone awaits the return of the thriving businessman, Macbeth, to congratulate his success. But his arrival is anticipated by three other pairs of cunning eyes, each with riddles on their lips to warn Macbeth of his doom. As the night goes on, how will the promise of power and glory twist the fate of this hungry feast?
An adaptation like this redefines power, and the violence it entails, in a more relevant context. It is not avant-garde; corporations have been the subject of anxiety since the last century. But it is palatable and sparks just enough interest to draw the audience in. And it is more than worthy of interest. The stage is at the centre of the audience, seated along four sides so that the drama is “boxed in” by its observers. The integrative format is, again, not a novelty, but a technical challenge that was nicely achieved by the director, and well-adapted to by the actors. Although the effect falls slightly behind its full potential to inspire new meaning, its aesthetic value was effective and well-exploited: the streak of light leaking from Duncan’s bedroom door, situated on the actual stage and thus interacting with the space below, falls squarely on the conflicted Macbeth, as in a daze, he follows his dagger onto the lit trajectory.
Bailey Fear is a spectacular Macbeth. His seething frustration, sometimes suppressed into an unnatural composure, sometimes bursting with vulnerability to his vice, makes him a wonderful candidate. Shakespeare’s play is a constant dialogue between the willful playwright and the omnipotent fate that disdains freewill, and Macbeth is the emotional sponge that absorbs all the pain in this process. Lydia Seed, who plays Lady Macbeth, is a delight to watch as usual. It is pleasant to see that she does not neglect the gradient of her role’s personality as the play goes on. The individual strength of these protagonists are amplified in their collaboration, a power couple with the cruel chemistry between them.
The rest of the cast, the three witches for instance, are well placed according to their strengths. It is a pity to know that the producer, Sarah Chamberlain, will not be offering her work in St Andrews for the near future. BoxedIn Theatre’s production of Macbeth brings student theatre in St Andrews to a new level, unlikely to be reproduced for a while.