Macbeth: The Filter's 75-minute re-imagining of Shakespeare is radical

The Vaults, Leake Street, London

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The Independent Culture

“Full of sound and fury”? Well, certainly full of sound in this radical, 75 minute re-imagining of Shakespeare's darkest tragedy by Filter, a company celebrated for their irreverent, penetrating deconstructions of the classics, in a co-production with Bristol's Tobacco Factory.

“How is't with me, when every noise appals me?” asks Ferdy Roberts's macho, tormented Macbeth. Accordingly, the central nervous system of this stripped-back, rehearsal-clothes version is provided by the disquieting turmoil of Tom Haines's extraordinary sonic score. 

It is s delivered live on the dominating tangle of laptops, keyboards and strange custom-built electronic instruments by the downbeat witches. At times, this auditory onslaught, which weaves together everything from the ticking of out-of-kilter metronomes to battle reports and prophesies half-heard through interference on radio transmission, threatens to overwhelm the truncated, if intelligently spliced, drama.  But it allows for some genuinely chilling and thematically astute moments – the murderous horror at Lady Macduff's, say, signalled by Macbeth's matter-of-fact switching off of the cries issuing from a baby-monitoring device.

The bloodied hero reads about his future fate, bathetically enough, in a copy of Brodie's Notes in this production which will appeal to students with its self-conscious mix of iconoclastic humour and sonically conjured psychological intensity.

To 15 February; 020 7401 9603 – then touring to Liverpool, Oxford, Exeter, Newcastle

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