Imitating The Dog’s ‘Macbeth’

Hi everyone, back once again with another review! It’s another Shakespeare play. But this one is well known, I got invited by The Mercury Theatre to go and see a slight adaption of ‘Macbeth’ by Imitating The Dog (ITD).

Some of you might have read my ‘Comedy Of Errors’ review. This is one of William Shakespeare’s earlier plays, so you will know that I do sometimes struggle to understand what is going on. But I did Macbeth in English so I knew the rough outline of the story. The basic outline is Macbeth an Army general is promoted by the king, as this happens three witches appear to Macbeth and say to him that he will become king. Macbeth along with Lady Macbeth plots to murder the king and then take the thrown. Macbeth does, then goes mad with power killing more people until he is eventually killed himself.

This adaption follows that basic outline, but there are some slight changes. For example, instead of the king of Scotland, he’s a mob boss, instead of the three witches, there are three clowns. Instead of it being set in Scotland it’s set in a fictional city. These are all welcome change, as it brings the story up to date with the modern day, and are more than likely to appeal to younger audiences.

I like the fact that not all of the show was in Shakespearean language. Of course, the main characters like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth would talk in this way, but the three clowns did not so the story was much easier to follow than the traditional play, which was a very welcome change. On just the show alone I enjoyed the whole performance. If you are taking someone to see their first Shakespeare play, then this one would be great for anybody going to see Shakespeare for the first time.

Photo shows all five of the cast posing with colourful screens behind them with two cameras either side.

In terms of accessibility, I was impressed with what was available. The main thing that stood out was the fact that all the sets and scenes were projected on a giant screen behind the actors, and depending on where the characters were going or where they were supposed to be, they what be in that part of the stage in front of the part of the screen that showed the setting, so for most of the show all the cast were actually on stage. Another big plus I want to give is the fact that there were two smaller screens one on the right and one on the left, with two cameras on stage. Throughout the show, members of the cast mainly the clowns would move the cameras around, this way you were able to see the actors’ facial expressions and emotions. Which was very much a welcomed edition, and one which I would advocate for other shows to do. As this helps visually, and allows you to get more engrossed in a story, as you were able to see the actors’ emotions, and as an audience member, you felt them too. As someone with Sight Loss, this has a huge benefit, as depending on your level of vision you would be able to sit anywhere and still comfortably enjoy the show.

This show is a brilliant example of how using technology can benefit everyone including disabled people, and this is something I can nothing but endorse. If you are new to Shakespeare but know this story, then this is worth a go! Whether you are young or old everyone can get something from this show, including if you have sight loss. It is worth pointing out, that there is a lot of lighting, shadow and darkness throughout the show, which people may struggle with, but again where the screens help with this. So use the screens as much as you can. If you have little to no vision, the three clowns/witches describe most of if not all of the action scenes which is a nice addition. There is a list of trigger warnings for this show which is listed as follows: flashing imagery and lighting effects loud noises, including recorded gunshots, strong language throughout, scenes featuring moments, descriptions and images of violence and use of firearms, simulated smoking, simulated sex scene, some drug use, reference to child abuse.

Various colours on all the screens with two of the clowns talking to each other, while lady macbeth is signing into a microphone.

All of the acting in this show was absolutely for-nominal! You could really feel the emotion from all the cast, there were a few times throughout the show where I was so engrossed in the show I forgot where I was, and I never thought I would say that about a Shakespeare play! The little added modern touches helped the understanding of the story.

Unfortunately, there was no Audio Description or Touch Tour performances. whilst at The Mercury, but hopefully it will be available at the other theatres as it is currently on tour so hopefully it will be available elsewhere! Macbeth is going on tour at the following venues on the following dates:

The Liverpool Playhouse: 25th – 29th April 2023
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield: 3rd – 6th May 2023

I thoroughly recommend you go and see this show! As of writing, there is one more performance at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester as of writing so get your tickets now!

Until Next Time,
The VI Critic

photo is of macbeth and lady macbeth, with macbeth whispering into lady macbeth’s ear.