NTC Touring Theatre Co and Peta Lily & Co, The Porter’s Daughter

Review in Issue 8-3 | Autumn 1996

This production is a clever re-working of the Shakespeare classic, revealing the below-stairs antics of the residents of Macbeth's castle. The set is constructed from a pyramid of stacked tables suggesting complex domestic relations. ‘Peatbogs and piss!’ Curses the cook when she learns that the appearance of Banquo's ghost has ruined the proceedings of the dinner she's spent all day spitting in. The porter's daughter (played with honesty by Verity Watts) sees her chance of escape from the castle snatched from her when the guard with whom she intends to elope is executed, suspected of King Duncan's murder. So the intricate bearings of the actions of the 'great' on the lives of the little are revealed in Peta Lily's excellent script.

The pile of carefully constructed tables which constitute the set beg inventive and acrobatic usage, but their potential is never really fulfilled. At one point, a table becomes the vertical bed of Macbeth and the Porter's daughter, sleeping uneasily together, but the physical invention stops there. This brand of theatre is expected to have a strong physical basis, but physical inventiveness seems sometimes to have been sacrificed for the sake of conventional gags and tired slapstick. However, the excellent script and strong performances tell the story with a simple power often lacking in more sophisticated physical theatre.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1996

This article in the magazine

Issue 8-3
p. 18