Macbeth | Gemco Players
With ghastly onlookers and an inventive use of technology creating the ghostly world of Macbeth, Gemco Players present an interpretation that is both an engaging introduction to Shakespeare and a haunting performance in its own right. Partnering with Page to Stage following their performance season, it offers a rare almost unabridged version of the play, combining old and oft cut scenes with new technology.
Michael Fenemore’s Macbeth is a man whose constant movement betrays his tumultuous thoughts. The nervous twitch of his hand hints at both his treachery and internal conflict, and paves the way for the sudden, explosive snarls as he is consumed by panic, growing terrifying in his desperation. Yet at his most broken and sympathetic, he is eerily quiet and still, creating a chilling contrast.
Elise D’Amico’s Lady Macbeth is more villainous from the beginning, with her dark chuckle and dismissive nature towards her servants rapidly evolving into barely contained malice. Interestingly, her slow breakdown appears not to come from remorse and grief, but of the terrifying realisation of what it has turned her husband into; or what he already was. Her quieter moments of misery hold the same wait as her husbands, with her physicality as she sleepwalks being particularly chilling and gut wrenching.
With an ensemble of over twenty actors, the audience can feel the paranoia engulfing the lead pair as they’re constantly watched by dozens of eyes. It makes the crowd scenes particularly forceful, and with young Emilio Maine Hernadez and Lily Calder remaining onstage as the children of Macduff and Banquo from the beginning, the weight of the tragedy on even the most innocent truly hits home. But the most fascinating onlookers are the witches, played by Joy McLeary, Anna St Clair and Katrina Alvarez. While their energetic, manic chemistry resembles the witches of the 90s horror-comedy Hocus Pocus, physically they appear directly out of a nightmare. They become a permanent fixture in the corner, where they huddle together, branch-like talons silhouetted against their glowing lanterns, a picture of morbid serenity as chaos unfurls around them.
The costumes are an intriguing, timeless blend of the modern, the medieval and the post-apocalyptic, where capes, armour and woven shrouds sit alongside leather jackets. The hollowed faces and dark, skeletal eyes of many of the characters blur the line between human and the more obviously supernatural witches, who truly live up to the brief of being ‘so wicked and wild’ in their attire.
The performance revolves around a bloodied circle on the floor that sets the stage for the bloodshed to come. The use of lighting is intriguing, with several scenes being lit by characters head torches to give them a very personal and unnervingly real sense of horror. However, the true visual star of the stage is multimedia, with projections at the side of the stage hosting ghosts and giving a gruesomely intimate view into death scenes that is difficult to portray outside film.
(The Witches) become a permanent fixture in the corner….a picture of morbid serenity as chaos unfurls around them.