Now Abu is not a great one for "culture" in any shape or form unless it takes place on a rugby pitch. The last play I was able to lure him to was Alone It Stands which tells of the All Blacks defeat by Munster.
But he has a fondness for Macbeth which he studied for 'O' Level and got A2 for, as he constantly reminds me. (He actually repeated his fifth form so that he could stay on at school as Malay College rugby captain, so he studied The Merchant of Venice as well.)
We arrived at KLPac just in time for the performance: a combination his tardiness (why do men have to take so long to get ready to go out?) and the traffic snarl on Tun Razak, which makes you want to scream at the folks who had the clever idea of siting a new theatre in the most conjested part of the city.
We had complementary seats courtesy British Coucil (perk of the job!), and Pentas 1 was packed out.
The play was visually gorgeous - a lesson in how much effect can be achieved with great simplicity: suspended swords and churning mist, copious quantities of it. And the film had a soundtrack (composed by Anthea Haddow) which created an ambience of unease with ghostly, distorted sound. You can taste the atmosphere here - (click on Current).
I don't often give much thought to the lighting designer of a play but Kai Fischer created convincingly - eerie marshland, claustrophobic castle and Birnam Wood.
This was an extremely pacy version of Macbeth which had the whole drama played out in an hour and a half. Much was cut, much was reshaped. The three witches with their hubbly-bubbliness had disappeared (much to Abu's chagrin because this was the only bit of the play he could quote at me in the car), in their place a demonically possesed child who physically stayed with Macbeth through much of the play. There were echoes of The Exorcist and The Ring for sure.
Despite strong performances (I particularly liked Lewis Howden's Macbeth and Peter d'Souza's magnanimous Duncan), I felt emotionally removed from the production - was this because of physical distance from the stage? (I think I would have preferred to see the play in a more intimate theatre-in-the-round setting ... Pentas 2 would have suited the staging much more, though of course it's much smaller).
And though I liked the paciness, it meant that much of the dialogue was delivered very quickly. Couple that with Scots accents and I found that I missed perhaps half of the words. (This seemed to be a common complaint, talking to other folks afterward.) What a relief it was when the famous soliliquies were delivered and I knew them word for word. (How many times have I taught this?)
Abu said he liked the performance, especially the sword fight at the end. Though he thought that Macbeth should have won because he was much the better fighter. Now that would have been a totally original version!