ATC, Macbeth False Memory

Review in Issue 12-2 | Summer 2000

It was with enthusiasm that I set out to see ATC. Their past shows have been a mixed bag, it’s true, but they never turn out anything truly dire. Or so I thought. Macbeth False Memory combines video projection with live work (stop me if you’ve heard it all before, kids) and takes its thematic inspiration from its eponymous namesake. That’s right, you have heard it all before – The Wooster Group were driving this car twenty years ago. The problem is that where Liz Le Compte and chums are hurtling about in a formula one race-car, ATC are chugging along the hard shoulder in a milk float.

Paradoxically, for a company called Actors Touring Company, it’s the performances that really let the show down. It would be unfair of me to name and shame but suffice to say that only one of the actors comes out unscathed and that’s because she spends most of her time babbling malevolently into a mobile by herself. The others churn out embarrassingly constipated performances that left me shifting in my seat and begging them to stop. The double paradox comes, though, when we really pay attention to the text. Whilst the dialogue is sometimes sphincter clenchingly crass, the structure of the piece is nothing short of beautiful. We are introduced to seemingly random mosaic pieces of narrative which become foggier and foggier as the show goes on. Then, around halfway through, the pieces start to fall into place and we realise that Deborah Levy has written an economically brilliant structure where nothing is extraneous and all those mosaic pieces resonate against each other. What a pity, then, that this subtle structure is trampled underfoot by the elephantine performances of the actor-cum-trees.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-2
p. 26