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MacPlebs | Golden Goose Theatre

Shakespeare’s catalogue of plays has been here, there, and everywhere, so it is no surprise to see such a broad range of adaptations. Artists try to make comedies funnier, tragedies sadder, and everything in between feel more relatable. What happens when you turn it on its head and play into the flexibility of the stories? MacPlebs is a clever blend of artistic freedom and canny writing to create a new look for the Scottish play.

We are introduced to two actors who are members of the ensemble for a retelling of the classic story before quickly being told that the rest of the cast will be unable to perform due to a lack-of-life incident. Without having read the text, the pair attempts to perform the show in its entirety by playing every single character. In a The 39 Steps meets The Play That Goes Wrong manner, all five acts are swiftly covered in an hour of farcical delivery.

The context is instantly transferred to the modern day, opening in a club where Macbeth (Tom Hogan) and Banquo (Gherto Tanzarella) are greeted by almost three Witches (there are only two performers so that allows some slack here). This remix of a production hits all the major plot points to successfully tell the story, even to those who might not know the plot of the original tragedy, yet everything seemed slightly tweaked, such as Macbeth receiving messages from the King on his state-of-the-art Peppa Pig phone. Every decision has been made to create an environment that feeds into the silliness of the new world, even down to Macbeth’s bloodied hands being a pair of red gloves. It received one of the biggest laughs, which is not an easy reward considering the endless laughter throughout the evening.

Hogan and Tanzarella made an effort to think about the purpose behind all of their jokes, including the more subtle ones that audiences may have missed, such as two news reporters working for News from the Globe. Beyond the writing, directing, improvisation, and many other contributions, Hogan and Tanzarella delivered a pair of brilliant performances that reflect the work put into the piece. Playing such a huge quantity of characters has many difficulties, but these were not present on the stage as each beat was met with accuracy and gags landed like a jet in calm winds.

Small props and minimal costume changes were the main visual clues for alternating characters but ultimately, the illusion was perfected by the hilarious vocal and physical changes. Duncan introducing his sons, as well as other notable characters, was a highlight in the show’s superb execution of multi-rolling. A welcoming surprise was the injection of songs, beginning with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth duetting about the plot to kill Duncan. What once was a serious scene introducing the dark storyline of the play is now a fun, jolly track that encourages everyone to want to sing along. One number even gifts audiences with a delightful tap dance. MacPlebs is not billed as a musical, but you will not be disappointed when the tunes begin.

Everything that once made Macbeth a tragedy now makes MacPlebs a comedy, a credit to Hogan and Tanzarella’s intelligent collaboration. Experimenting with turning a tragedy into a comedy holds many risks but the duo use this to their advantage and make full use of their wacky sense of humour. If you are going to the fringe this year, make sure MacPlebs is on your itinerary.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Harry Michael Sanders


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