Blood Will Have Blood [FringeTIX]
Adrian Mattiske @ Queens Theatre (The Parlour)
7:45pm, Tue 3 Mar 2009
Shakespeare – love ‘im. Macbeth – love it, possibly my favourite bit of Bardery. And a one-man Macbeth? Sounds like a sure-fire winner to me.
Of course, I’ve seen a one-man Macbeth before – back in 2006, Stephen Dillane did a sterling effort of blasting through the entire play, inhabiting every character, in a touch under two hours. And the contrast between that performance – which, even though it didn’t press all the right buttons for me, still managed to impress as a matter of technical excellence – and this one is stark.
For one, Mattiske performs Blood Will Have Blood in a svelte thirty-five minutes, if that. To present the text in that amount of time, he simply omits some of it. Well, most of it. Certainly all of the good bits. Sure, there’s a little “is this a dagger I see before me?”, but “out out damn spot”? Nowhere to be seen. Instead, he (allegedly) drags in Chekhov and Dostoyevsky, and gets an additional slab of profanity via the sound bleed from The Big Room next door.
The first two minutes are taken up by sitting in the dark, listening to a thunderclap echo to silence, then watching Mattiske rise from a crouch to stand tall and deliver two monologues without moving. Without moving. Compelling viewing, this is not.
Positives? Well, the lighting was exceptional: once you got past the spotlights representing the witches, there were front-of-stage lights mounted low that projected shadows onto a backing screen that seemed ominous, full of portent. A Pulp Fiction-esque box-of-light.
Such was the brutalisation of the script, we weren’t prepared for the premature ending – he bowed, bowed again, and lifted his head hopefully before anxiously whispered “thank you” before the remaining crowd cottoned on. And by “remaining crowd,” I mean five people; another two had already departed. Can’t say I blame them, really; this was an incredibly disappointing effort, laudable only in its purity of vision and technical delivery.