Sunday, September 11, 2011

A post-apocalyptic Macbeth at The Loons...

Venues for live theatre in Christchurch have been decimated following the earthquakes.  The Court Theatre,  Theatre Royal,  James Hay, Ngaio Marsh, Repertory Theatre... all are out of action, with fates already or yet to be determined. The Loons Circus Theatre Company in Lyttelton soldiered on until the last 6.3 dictated serious strengthening work.

A production of Macbeth, 'brutally slashed' by Joe Bennett and directed by Mike Friend, was scheduled. What to do? In keeping with the times the company decided to make use of the vacant space until recently occupied by the Volcano Cafe and Lava Bar. The audience would be sheltered under a heavy tarpaulin flanked by the ubiquitous containers - though still 'outdoors' as such - while the actors would be fully exposed to the elements.

Anna and I went last Thursday night. We picked up our tickets in the container on the right of the photo above and negotiated our way, none too certainly in the dark, across the planking and up into the seats. Facing us was a raked 'set', backed by high walls, the ground a mixture of large gravel, concrete block foundation and muddy ponds. Several braziers scattered around the set provided additional illumination, some warmth for the actors and plenty of atmosphere.

This version of Macbeth was physical, brutal, barbaric, elemental, tribal... The language took a back seat to the action, the sound effects and the set. A disappointment perhaps for Shakespearian devotees but this production was so right for its time. It took the earthquake devastation by the scruff of the neck and shook it all about. It was brave, fearless and a triumph (I thought).

I don't apologise for continuing reference to the earthquakes because this is the Christchurch reality. Living in the aftermath dominates every day, every conversation. Each week, as more central city buildings come down, there are also small triumphs and celebrations. Macbeth was a massive triumph and a celebration of creativity and endurance. Bravo!


  1. Bravo indeed! I would think amiss if you weren't still talking about the quake. It's surprising to me how quickly the rest of the world stops commenting on big disasters like yours. And it's so heartening to see, via your blog, the creative and compassionate ways NZ people are coping. Even on the tenth anniversary of our big national disaster, 9/11, we're still consumed with it. You will have to live with the aftermath of the quake for a lifetime. Well you should talk about it.

  2. Here, we are thinking much about 9/11 - a human-generated disaster which seems as unbelievable now as it did then. We will be thinking about you all on the anniversary and hoping it is a safe day for remembering...

  3. "This version of Macbeth was physical, brutal, barbaric, elemental, tribal..."

    A very precise description. And yes it was a triumph I thought.

    Did the line "the earth was feverous and did shake" get a cheer in the Thursday show?

  4. Haha! What did Shakespeare not know! So glad you saw it Giovanni. It garnered considerable criticism, all of it warranted perhaps in another place and time, but this production spoke to the moment in Christchurch.

    I did not notice whether there was a cheer or not - am sure there was!!