Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Macbeth" - Questioning our Present and Power

Rarely have I seen a theatrical performance with such a deep and special impact on the audience. "Macbeth", directed by Mr. Mihai Maniutiu at The Cube (National Theatre) in Iasi and staged for the second consecutive year, is an artistic experience not to be missed, by all means.

I took my place, on the eve of November 15th, to share a very unusually disturbing space with my friends and, on my left, a 9 year-old-boy who had come with his well-built black-mustached dad, while being surrounded by mostly youngsters in their late twenties or sophisticated adult couples. The Cube, as people call it, is the new post-modern space in Iasi which looks like a big black box from outside and which was meant to host the new production of the Shakespearean play that night. The confined space, specially designated for only a limited number of people, made us all look down on the 5 square meter stage from an upper position. How can you play Shakespeare in such a small space? How can you keep your audience on their toes for 2 hours without a break? Probably only Mr Maniutiu can.

From the very beginning, present-day allusions filled the stage. We could not avoid making the direct associations with all the images of shocking violence, utmost brutality and lack of any trace of humanism of the soldiers in superior position from the current war. At times, I was wondering whether the boy on my left had the impression his video game home became reality... Shocking visual scenes (like simulating the shooting of the baby) mixed with shocking sounds and disturbing colours (the red of the rose petals with the brown of the bullets and the coral blue of the bathtub water) built up the tension only to be released at the very end.
Ms. Tatiana Ionesi, who played Lady Macbeth - probably the central character in the play - acted with huge talent and emotion.

This experience proved so valuable to me because, symbolically, it can perfectly fit in a time when power and authority are constantly threatened, confiscated by obscure characters for a temporary period that may seem endless, netted around intrigues and betrayals, and hopefully, eventually, regained and fueled by the justified, like the prophecy in the great Scottish Play: "never vanquish'd be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him"...

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