South London Macbeth

I’ve seen updated versions of Shakespeare before, but this was a bit different – and not just because of the South London accents (which took more than a little getting used to).  The company itself is quite small, and has been promoting its production via its own blog, complete with the attached video which effectively shows how the play has been updated to current times and the setting of the Croydon/London riots.  Given that it was being performed just a few miles from where some of that destruction was taking place, it’s interesting to speculate how those brought up in the area would have been affected by it.

So, instead of Scottish rivalry for kingship, we have inter and intra gang rivalry between tracksuited (Lady Macbeth distinguished by having neither track suit nor jeans!) rioters getting some of their updates via texts, with everyone surgically attached to their smartphones (can’t criticise that!!), with news and updates sometimes coming through that way.  The Thane of Ross is even on Twitter.  And, like last year’s Richard III at the Old Vic, TV reports being used to provide commentary and speed up the story.

I’m sure this type of production wouldn’t be for everyone, but I thought it was quite effective – it’s one of those situations where what I’ve seen grows on me more after the event.   I’ve been chatting with a Facebook friend who questioned why if the setting had been updated, the language hadn’t.  I think it didn’t need to be – the accents were jarring enough, and the juxtaposition actually forced us all to concentrate and focus more on the language and what Shakespeare was trying to convey.

So, a Macbeth for the social media age in more ways than one.


Read more:

Ellie, who played the Thane of Ross, blogs on the update to the Croydon riots.

Inside Croydon reports (a good explanation of the social media element)

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