Review: Clown Macbeth @ C

'Theatre', Jeffrey Smith / CC
Photograph: 'Theatre', Jeffrey Smith / CC

Verdict: Recommended Show

Genre: Physical Theatre

Venue: C

Company: Ryukyu Cirque


‘An alternative adaptation of Macbeth using mime, dance, and music’.


While it is not difficult to find an incarnation of a Shakespeare classic at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it is often difficult to find a new way of performing it. Using mime, dance, music, and sound, Clown Macbeth by Ryukyu Cirque have certainly achieved this.

Against a striking black and red set an animatronic clown changing his face and his moods and a woman dancing the characters for the performance. The clown is impeccably executed most of the time, with the sudden change in facial expressions being incredibly skilled, but at times more precision is needed to keep it feeling slick and polished. The dancer moves with beauty and grace and radiates a deep sorrow despite her expression remaining unreadable, although I feel there should be more to this character if she is to convey a Lady Macbeth.

At some points it is difficult to understand what exactly is going on; some parts are obviously Macbeth but others feel random and disjointed. The recognisable moments are interesting and seeing such familiar scenes portrayed with no words provides a different perspective, however  it does get muddled amidst seemingly random episodes and the story is lost.

There is a lot of repetition which begins to lessen the impact of its cleverness which runs the risk of losing the attention of the audience. There are moments mesmerising intelligence but it is inconsistent and fails to reach the level it is aiming for.

The lighting is excellently done and the music is beautiful and really adds to the atmosphere which is generally frightening though sometimes confused. The show is kept wonderfully simple as not to overload the senses and this works very nicely and it is the content that needs fleshing out as it feels either over-simplified or over-complicated; it’s difficult to tell which.

Clown Macbeth is nightmarish and haunting, it just doesn’t quite hit the mark of being as polished, and exciting as it has the potential to be. However, Ryukyu Cirque is an interesting company with great potential and skill.

This review originally appeared on FringeReview and is reproduced in partnership with their permission.


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Christine Lawler 42 Articles
Christine has a passion for literature and has been a closeted writer since childhood. Other passions include theatre, film, and all things geeky. She lives in Glasgow with a cat named Molls and a tortoise named Haruki Kabuki.

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