Dakh Centre for Contemporary Arts, Macbeth: The Prologue

Review in Issue 19-2 | Summer 2007

What could act as a prologue to the story of Macbeth? Shakespeare's play is a carefully constructed logical whole, its narrative poised in balance between the forces of destiny and self-responsibility. The view from the Dakh Centre for Contemporary Arts was more gloss than backstory, an impassioned cry for moral relativism – Macbeth was hero as well as murderer, and he both loved and tyrannised. A historical continuum is suggested: youthful squabbling breaks into competitive violence; a king is killed; the people are dissatisfied and restless under liberalism, then revolt under tyranny. Macbeth is simply one weave in a larger pattern.

What the company articulate most powerfully is a richly poetic sense of disorder: ritual order, beautifully established through rustically simple choreography that feels age-old, breaks down; human faces ossify to masks and melt to clay, throaty chanted harmonies degenerate into dissonant shrieks. The stagecraft is astonishing – surreal and beautiful masks move through the steady beats of ritual exchange and create a sense of the primal impulse of aggression and intimacy, sexuality and tenderness that underpin all society. Cocooned in woven rugs, surrounded by simple faces daubed on the walls, and with blood-red light bathing the stage, this young company presented a passionate vision. The raw voices of the amazing musicians cracked in ways that belied the cynicism of the occasional poorly translated narrative voiceover (which tried to make ironic their cyclical vision of history). Perhaps less about Macbeth than about the inhumanity and madness borne of a political corruption that this company have experienced first hand in their home in the Ukraine, this immersive provocation was stirring stuff with genuine heart, and images to feed the imagination.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-2
p. 32