JOYCE MCMILLAN on MACBHEATHA at the Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 27.9.13.
4 stars ****
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is everywhere in Scottish theatre at the moment, with Rachel O’Riordan’s new production on its way from Perth Theatre to the Tron, and David Greig’s great sequel Dunsinane about to return to Edinburgh. It would be difficult, though, to find a more vivid and tightly-focussed version of Skakespeare’s story that this powerful new one-hour adaptation for two actors, translated into a sinewy and richly atmospheric Gaelic by Ian McDonald.
With the help of a battery of television screens that deliver news of battles and atrocities as well as supernatural visitations, and of the mobile phones carried by Daibhid Walker as Macbheatha and Catriona Lexy Campbell as his Lady, MacDonald’s version makes an extraordinary job of delivering all the key moments of the play in a two-person format that throws a fierce emphasis onto the blighted and deteriorating relationship between Macbheatha and his wife. Both Walker and Campbell turn in superb, passionate and driven performances, young, sexually charged and blazing with ambition. And if Liz Carruthers’s otherwise excellent production comes to a slightly abrupt end, without the final bulletin we need to tell us of Prince Chaluim’s ascent to the throne, it still offers a fierce insight into the relationship at the centre of one of the world’s greatest plays; as well as a reminder that like any other language charged with history and poetry, Gaelic brings its own energy to this great text, along with a profound and thrilling sense of connection to the mediaeval Scotland in which this most famous of stories is set.