Dominic Hill is known in theatre circles for stripping down the set of a play, making it about the relationship between not only the characters but also that between the cast and audience. Succeeding in previously secreting a voyeuristic feeling with his critically acclaimed production, The Libertine, am I surprised to walk out of the Paisley Arts Centre feeling violated, affected, almost like the madness of The Macbeths has projected onto me? Not really. Having already re-interpreted the play in 2017, it is interesting to note that this time Dominic has replaced Keith Fleming as Macbeth with Lucianne McEvoy, making it an all-female cast for this new incarnation of the Scottish Shakespearian play.

Directed by Citizens Theatre Director Dominic Hill and adapted in collaboration with Frances Poet, this intense conversion of the works has the key focus on relationships and mind at the very core of the production. Considered one of Shakespeare’s darker tragedies, this adaptation of the play intriguingly focuses on the destructive relationship between the greedy couple, and their path to insanity, with the core setting of the bedroom. We are not shown the darker sides to the play, although in many ways, we are shown darker.

Most of us are acquainted with the story of Macbeth, which begins with word of Macbeth’s position, which is spurred on with the destructive ideas of Lady Macbeth, and ultimately leads to the damaging relationship, damaged characters. Within the confines of Paisley’s smallish arts centre, the set is sparse, a double bed, intrusive lighting and hints of The Macbeths‘ secrets, bloody handprints on the side of the bed next to a bottle of vodka. Within the strict challenging seventy minutes performance, we witness love, hate, madness, upset, pain, and walk away torn with emotion ourselves. Despite not seeing the acts committed, the gore lies in the bloody hands, and the recordings, which are painful to inhale. A brash adaptation. Stuart Jenkin’s harsh lighting turns the interrogative finger at them, as we see the repercussions of their actions in the intimate setting.

Hill has changed the dynamics of the relationship with the casting of Lucianne this time around, (as opposed to Keith in the 2017 production), exploring how women operate within a violent domain, which tends to be male-concentrated. However, whether this is actually obvious throughout the seventy minutes has to be questioned, as it does not entirely rub off on me, or hit home, with Lucianne giving a fantastic interpretation of Macbeth albeit not entirely dissimilar to that of a male. It often comes across as a straight forward replacement to me. That said, it still has an affecting, intrusive effect on the audience and the acting by both Charlene Boyd (as Lady Macbeth) and Lucianne is not to be faulted.

Photos courtesy of Jassy Earl

The Macbeths runs at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh from Tuesday 16th until Saturday 20th October 2018