The Pantaloons perform Macbeth at the Gulbenkian Theatre
Georgia Henry reviews The Pantaloons theatre company’s novel adaptation of Macbeth, which stopped at the Gulbekian for one night only.
On 12 November at the Gulbenkian Theatre, The Pantaloons theatre company brought Shakespeare’s Scottish play to life. With knock knock jokes, audience interaction and a style taken from film noir, this was not your typical Shakespeare play.
Despite being “Will’s darkest play” as one of the actors sang when introducing the play to us, The Pantaloons created a shortened version of Macbeth, performing only the most pivotal scenes. There were broken up with snippets of narration from either the Porter or Malcolm, used to explain quickly and simply what was going on in the play.
The main thing that impressed me with The Pantaloons was how incredibly accessible their presentation of Macbeth was, the entire audience was transfixed from the very beginning, the action held the attention of people of all age ranges, and the actor-audience relationships were extremely strong, encouraging a much more slick and successful production.
Firstly, this particular performance of Macbeth was no tragedy. The actors managed to perform this dangerous play with such comedic timing and strategy that everyone watching was in fits of laughter throughout. The Pantaloons achieved this by delivering many of their lines in an ironic, mocking way. They also frequently came out of character to speak to members of the audience as themselves. For example, two latecomers were chased to their seats, and when another followed, Macbeth stood up and said “don’t worry, come in, it’s not like I’m in the middle of a soliloquy or anything”. This kind of sarcastic hilarity encapsulates the entire essence of The Pantaloons’ performance, which made me see Shakespeare’s infamous play in a completely new and refreshing light. By presenting the play in this way, The Pantaloons were able to appeal to their younger audience members, allowing them to view Shakespeare in a fun and jovial way, as well as providing people who have seen Macbeth a thousand times with a new and alternative viewing of the text.
Another feature which was very impressive to me was the incredible talent of each of the company members. Every one of them was able to multirole, playing both serious and comedic characters. As well as this every character supplies vocal sound affect, singing, and played a musical instrument – there was a violinist, pianists and saxophonist all present on stage, which not only aided their ‘film noir’ concept, but gave the performance a real sense of depth and completion.
Overall The Pantaloons’ adaptation of Macbeth was an excellent production which I would happily see again, and truly embodies what it means to perform in theatre. No two performances would be the same as the entire value of the company and production lies in their relationship with the audience, asking questions of them, getting them involved and making them part of the story; right from my entrance into the theatre, the actors were already on stage and in character. This sort of flawless performance with such commitment to making each audience member have an individual experience is the kind of thing that makes me love theatre, and indeed The Pantaloons theatre company.
Interested in The Pantaloons? Check out their website here for further tour dates.