Macbeth (1987): Half Moon Theatre, London
PRINCIPAL CAST: Ron Donachie (Macbeth); Leon Greene (Banquo); Noreen Kershaw (Lady Macbeth); Bob Mason (Macduff); David Steuart (Duncan).
This production ran from 6 October - 7 November 1987.
"It is always invigorating to see a director taking a firm line with an ambiguous classic, even if it subsequently leads him into an open manhole....The instand effect, of course, is to change the play from a tragedy into a grotesque clown show; but that is a logical consequence of one perfectly defensible reading of the text, and whatever the production's anachronistic liberties they all derive from its starting premise. Clad in camouflague suits that merge with the brick-painted set, the witches (Bhasker, George Costigan, and Mary McCusker) wind up the spell - operating their own lights and sound - and proceed to stage-manage the whole thing. It is a witch who becomes the bloody sergeant, with a toy arrow through his head. Witches supervise the royal arrival at Dunsinane with pastoral twitterings and birds on fishing rods. Comes the night of the murder, and they take over from the Porter as gate-keeping Marx Brothers ('Is your master still abed?' 'Yes, unless he's done a bunk.') Their effects are by no means limited to comedy. The banquet (characteristically introduced with a rollicking chorus of Food, Glorious Food) finds them as a trio of waiters, who evoke the missing guest by raising tin trays into masks of the slaughtered Banquo. And for the apparitions there is a stunning theatrical reversal, with Bhasker behind the scenes working the red fire and switching joke voices as he raises three celluloid dolls to impress his gullible upstage spectator." ~ Irving Wardle, "Takeover by the witches", Times, 9 October 1987
"Chris Bond brings to East London a thoroughly exuberant and visually extravagant Macbeth. Peopled by shaggy thanes and a ruck of cartoon characters from the world of science fiction and showbiz, his hirsute warriors clasp monstrous swords and each other to their ample bosoms." ~ John Vidal, The Guardian, 22 October 1987
"Those versatile witches certainly deserve a mention. They are Bhasker, George Costigan and Mary McCusker." ~ Charles Osborne, "Eye of newt and giant hamburger", Daily Telegraph, 12 October 1987