Posted: 7th November 2013

If there is one thing to be said about Shakespeare, it’s that at times his language can seem a tad… Dated. This can lead many students struggling to understand and connect with his works, and so impair their exam preparation. In order to rectify this, Boil in the Bag Productions visited the school on Tuesday, the 22nd of October 24 and presented us their version of Macbeth.

From the outset, I knew it was different. Gone were almost all of the actors, with just one man and one woman playing all of the roles. Many scenes were edited, or cut out altogether, in order to squeeze the 18,000-word tragedy into just 70 minutes. But the real changes lay in the additions to the text. After each scene, there was a transition into the same scene, but with language that would be more suited to Love/Hate than the Globe.

The addition of a modern interpretation breathed new life into the play. Characters became more accessible, motives became clearer, and the themes became relevant. I especially enjoyed the use of rap to highlight the rhythmic nature of Shakespeare’s language. Never has iambic pentameter been so enjoyable nor the consequences of unfettered power more humorous.

All in all, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable scene study of Macbeth. The Q&A session after the main performance gave us a chance to ask the actors questions about characterization and the language itself, which helped us to view the script as from a new perspective; that of a play that is to be performed, not just read and analysed. The addition of a handout containing key quotes, as well as a summation of the main motifs and themes present in the play will surely help in our revision of the text for the dreaded Leaving Cert. And if not, at least we got to hear what a rap version of Macbeth sounds like, which was worth the experience all in itself.

Tom Cantillon (Rhetoric)

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