Àlex Rigola’s now slightly notorious MCBTH (Macbeth) (in Catalan) has already disturbed many audience members, though perhaps not in the way that the director intended. Peppered with visual references from ‘popular culture’, (although the term, like the culture, tends to be imposed upon us), there is a carefully cultivated cheapness about the play – from its bushels of plastic Christmas trees, to its merciless lighting with a blanching effect, like Burger King after midnight.
Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s most disturbing plays, deals with the immense guilt that derives from committing the most unthinkable of acts – the killing of a king – with seemingly very little motive. Macbeth is a man literally possessed. He is egged on by his wife, one of the most intriguing female characters in Shakespeare. Their relationship is dynamite, it’s a marriage made in heaven and made in hell.
In the woods
Rigola’s MCBTH denies us all relationships, the Macbeths’ above all. The performances, too, are deliberately ‘pre-fabricated’: the actors come on, deliver their lines, and then go off again. They all seem so … alone. Sometimes Macbeth (Joan Carreras) laughs, in a forced, horrible way. Sometimes he tosses aside a plastic tree, angrily. Sometimes he feels spooked by the ghost of King Duncan (Lluís Marco) and he wriggles and writhes on the couch. But for all he tries, he just cannot fit the crown on his head.
Rigola has created a Disney-club horror world under the clear, perhaps too clear, influence of filmmaker David Lynch. The Twin Peaks theme tune loops in the background. The whole aesthetic is Mulholland Drive. And with other references ranging from Mickey Mouse to Dexter to Celtic FC, it’s difficult to string a theme through. Even Homer Simpson is present in Macbeth’s vest and pants, and there is something Bartish about little Banquo.
Whose nightmare is it? Macbeth’s? Lady Macbeth’s? (Alícia Pérez) The audience’s? Rigola’s? And why one reference and not another? Why Celtic and not Rangers? Why Mickey Mouse and not Snoopy? Why Homer and not Maggie.
Could a man be possessed by popular culture?
Could he kill?
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p.s. I did think that Joan Carreras makes an excellent, if restrained, Macbeth.
You can see MCBTH (Macbeth) until November 18th at TNC theatre in Barcelona.
The play is in Shakesperean Catalan.
Thanks to Anna Aurich and to Àlex Rigola.
Thanks to David Ruano for the photo.