THE latest show from Dorset-based Dramatic Productions is a new version of the Scottish play by John Foster.
He has set the murder drama in 2070, when Earth is a distant memory and those who escaped the conflagration have decamped to Mars and taken over, ousting the native Chuckleheads (?).
The story opens as Captain James Macbeth is piloting a group of embedded journalists from the Space Wars back home to New London in a space ship named the Duncan, after the new Martian controller, Paul Duncan.
This Duncan has promised Macbeth that, when he retires, Macbeth will succeed to the title – but he’s changed his mind.
Macbeth’s wife, Geri (aka Heartbreak) has violent premonitions of Duncan’s treachery, but she can’t persuade her husband that his ambitions are thwarted.
The famous witches are here translated into ghostly voices in the ether (the increasingly familiar hi-tech ether, that is).
Murder follows murder, and Mrs M, who was once addicted to violent video games, is so shocked by the reality of murder that she takes her own life. James gets his come-uppance and eventually the balance is restored.
There are some interesting ideas and dramatic moments in this version, performed by four actors and aimed at a younger audience.
With a mesmeric soundscape, some clever lighting devices, stark white trees and a puppet robot, the story moves on at a fast pace without interval.
The director, Charmaine Kay Parkin, is an experienced actor and course leader, and brings out humour and terror in equal measure, and John Foster skillfully weaves current issues (immigration, asylum seekers, global warming …) into his story.
In the title role is musician Steve James making his acting debut, and it’s a big challenge for newcomers to find stillness, much needed particularly in the big speech about the excitement of killing.
Russel Biles holds the audience’s attention with his subtle, quiet and compelling reading of Duncan.
Rebecca Alexander’s explosive Lady M was rivetting and Sadie Parsons, another new Dramatic Productions performer, skewered the very different roles of Aurora Macduff and Thomas Banquo, again holding the audience in the palm of her hand.
Macbeth 2070 is a challenging new work, and one for which the company should be congratulated.