"[Director Brett Bailey's] stylised and precisely choreographed appropriation blazes with wit and energy right from the hilarious opening line"
Brett Bailey's vital adaptation of Macbeth is a transformative work that recontextualises the tragedy within the sphere of the heartbreaking atrocities being committed in sub-Saharan Africa. Based on Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi's own interpretation, Bailey's variation trims both the length and cast-size of the original. Three incredible soloists play the essential characters of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Banquo, while a seven-strong chorus multitasks in rotating through the subsidiary roles. Set in the context of the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the white South African theatre-maker's most striking casting alteration is his substitution of three representatives from a multinational corporation instead of the witches. The resulting performance is then profoundly influenced by how this ignites new meaning within the well-established themes.
Bailey has been positioning classic works within the context of post-colonial African for the last 18 years and his masterful manipulation of this thematic storyline is no exception. His highly stylised and precisely choreographed appropriation blazes with wit and energy right from the hilarious opening line, and is balanced with profoundly affecting photographs projected throughout the piece. The tyranny of witchcraft is replaced with ruthless commercial exploitation in Bailey's vision, as he works to reflect the necessary tension in relying on consumer goods that are products of repression. While the supernatural witches are gone, their trouble and toil still remains.