Writers: Gerardjan Rijnders, William Shakespeare, Kurt Cobain &Courtney Love
Reviewer: David Doyle
MacBain, part of the Big in Belgium strand of Summerhall’s programme for Edinburgh Fringe 2016, explores the stories of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love through the prism of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Combining an interview with the pop stars, a condensed version of Macbeth, and original text, the piece looks to explore the lives of two people trapped in a mental prison.
It’s an intriguing premise, and the parallels have the potential to offer fresh insights into two of the most recognisable couples in popular culture. However, that potential is never quite matched by what unfolds on stage. Instead, we are presented with a rather fragmented piece that takes a long time to get going.
The fragmentary nature of the piece is largely due to its structure, which sees the Macbeth and Cobain/Love elements of the story run separately for most of the piece. This causes the pace to sag significantly, most notably during the condensed version of Macbeth, which offers nothing new to the story. A significant trimming of the show’s running would allow for a much punchier and effective show.
The design is undoubtedly the most striking and successful element of the piece. Julian Maiwald’s set continually impresses, and the lighting design is among the best you’ll see in Edinburgh this year. The dynamism of the design highlights the missed opportunity of a piece that could have been a much more insightful, and successful exploration of the dynamics of the relationships of Cobain and Love, and Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
Runs until Sunday,14 August 2016