As a tale famously ‘full of sound and fury’, this particular play lands itself particularly well to Filter’s stated intention to focus on the sound clues threaded through the text.
A refreshing non-literal approach to the verse is signalled by the opening in which Double, Double and Toil are treated as names on Starbucks’ paper coffee cups. These witches however, are music operators stationed at a set of mutually facing consoles – featuring keyboards, amps and an occasional theremin – an installation which also constitutes the actual set for this play.
Throughout the piece, the actors, in other words, perform Tom Haines’s minimalist score which has the features of a 1980s computer game crossed with a film noir soundtrack, achieving a suitably ghostly effect through simple repetitions of the main theme. Though laudable in terms of its ensemble ethos, this gesture is somewhat counter-productive in that it often obliges the cast to remain stationary centre stage throughout the most dramatic moments, taking the overall energy of those scenes down.
That said, much effort is invested in the performance of the piece as a whole to connect the work with the audience. Poppy Miller’s Lady Macbeth is quietly enticing, Ferdy Roberts’ tortured King of Scotland in a sailor’s coat less so. Most of the – evidently trained – verbal delivery is directed straight out at the audience and the production features plenty of evidence that interesting exercises took place in rehearsal to bring the text to life – a game of hide and seek at the party where Macbeth is confronted by the ghost of Banquo is one memorable example. A textual intervention quoting from Brodie’s Notes is another, which might also endear this production to younger audiences.
However, none of these investigations seem to have resulted in valuable material which could serve as useful stage metaphors invigorating the audience’s engagement. Instead, the overall rehearsal room spirit manifested in the deliberate display of the process – and augmented by the actors’ similarly plain costumes – brings us yet another good sounding Shakespeare, which ultimately signifies nothing much else beyond the spoken text itself.