The Bunker Trilogy: Macbeth
Jethro Compton Ltd @ The Bunker
8:30pm, Sat 15 Mar 2014
It’s not just me who exited Agamemnon and went straight into the queue for Macbeth: there were at least a dozen people who were doing a Bunker double-header (or even a triple-header, though – as I’ve previously stated – that would be a pretty brutal five or six hours). And I must admit to being giddy with excitement heading into this show: having seen the Bunker aesthetic applied to the other two in the series, I was anxious to see how one of my favourite pieces of the Bard’s work would be transformed.
It becomes immediately apparent that this would be a very different Macbeth, and not simply because of the limited cast of four; the play opens with Macbeth and his armies on the verge of defeat, with the now-familiar aural accompaniments of Bunker-warfare creating a powerful backdrop to the introduction. The most significant moments of Shakespeare’s work are then exposed through a twisted series of flashbacks, with the linearity of time being yet another casualty of The Bunker’s war.
And that was just fine by me, because I’ve got a familiarity with the source material. But it did make me wonder what others may think of the performance if they only had fleeting knowledge of Macbeth – would they not find it impenetrable? That led me to contemplate my own experience with Agamemnon (and, to a lesser degree, Morgana)… and, thence, to mull on what Compton and Company have achieved here at The Bunker.
Re-imagining seminal works of theatre in retro-contemporary(!) settings sounds like a pretty risky endeavour, but I reckon this company better-than-succeeded; as with the other performances, Macbeth was absolutely drenched in atmosphere, and – once again – it’s the small directorial touches that completely sell the work in this setting. In particular, the use of gas masks was particularly powerful in this setting; Macbeth and Lady Macbeth arguing in The Bunker’s doorway (or, rather, the foyer) was another engaging touch that heightened the senses.
It’s intriguing that the performance in The Bunker Trilogy with which I was most grounded was also my least favourite… but the bar was set very, very high by the other two shows. Having said that, I still very much enjoyed Macbeth – it was an utterly engaging interpretation of Shakespeare’s themes in a twentieth-century setting, and was still one of the more prominent pieces of Fringe theatre this year… but the sublime mystery of Agamemnon and (more significantly) Morgana won me over.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 15, 2014