The scribblings and sketches of Miriam Gillinson, arts journalist
'Macbeth of Fire and Ice' review or 'Sex, Shakespeare and lashings of blood.'
'Macbeth of Fire and Ice'
Arcola Theatre, Monday 4th November Written for Time Out
‘Macbeth of Fire and Ice’ includes a smattering of Shakespeare, a dash of Norse mythology and lashings of blood. The monologues make little sense and the characters – played by only five actors – are hard to tell apart. But the dancing is sexy, the fighting is fierce and there’s even a real live ring of fire.
The show is only 90 minutes, which leaves little time for the text. Both Mark Ebulue and Molly Gromadzki – playing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth – sound a little shaky with their Shakespeare. It doesn’t help that they have to compete with Harry Napier’s screeching cello playing, which is recorded and layered over and thus doubly annoying.
It is in the dancing and fighting that Jon Gun Thor’s visceral production comes to life. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s meeting is so sexy it’s practically porn. Lady Macbeth’s ‘unsex me now’ speech is clawing and compelling and Macbeth is an explosive, instinctive fighter. There is a raw passion between the two, which goes a long way towards explaining their tragic spiral.
The fighting, engineered by movement director Hannes Thor Egilsson, is graceful but brutal. The murders are gruesome. When Banquo is killed, he emerges caked in gore. Later, Macbeth dons a skull mask and squeezes a bloody cloth, as hooded figures drop to the floor. If only Gun Thor had gone the full hog and made this the purely physical piece of theatre it so obviously longs to be.