I was curious to see how Oddsocks Productions could turn tragedy to comedy in their Steampunk production of ‘Macbeth’ at their recent visit to the Brighton Open Air Theatre in Dyke Road. An added attraction was that my niece was getting married on July 4 at Powderham Castle in Exeter with a Steampunk theme, and I wanted to see what Steampunk was all about.
Andy Barrow, artistic director, has described it as “Shakespeare for today. Seriously silly Shakespeare. A theatrical experience for everyone. Highly energetic, full of life and plenty of laughs. It’s Shakespeare, but not as you know it!” ‘Macbeth’ is one of Shakespeare’s most popular tragedies and tells the story of greed, witchcraft, murder and mayhem.
The show opened with the sale of £4 programmes by the cast members. It was an opportunity for early audience interaction and the chance for the actors to share some of the picnic goodies brought in by the audience as is customary at the BOAT before the shows start.
The opening sequence where three witches meet Macbeth and Banquo on a blasted heath set the scene for this high octane show: three robotic witches in white dresses (who could have come straight off a ‘Dr Who’ set) sang Nina Simone’s ‘I put a spell on you’ to the pair. There was plenty of silliness – from Lady M’s fascinator headgear to Macbeth’s dallying with a dagger on a string that he saw before him – as well as real talent from all the cast as they sang, played several instruments and several roles. A great deal of fun that was enjoyed by all the audience which included many children.
I love the idea of BOAT and the fact that it’s local, but I have to confess to leaving at the interval, not because I did not enjoy the show – I did, very much – but because my poor old bones could not take the extremely uncomfortable sitting arrangements, even though I had two cushions to help with padding. According to the theatre manager, Ann Marie, they have been lucky with the weather this season. If you’re going to catch the rest of the BOAT programme before the end of September, be sure to take plenty of cushions and blankets for when the sun goes down.