‘Makbet’ slays on stage

‘Makbet’ slays on stage

The OG ‘Game of Thrones’ about a power-hungry couple cuts across time, cultures, and even political colors.

Makbet, by Benilde’s Arts and Culture Cluster, is a mash-up of cultures. The Shakespearean play translated to Filipino by National Artist Rolando Tinio makes for more dramatic (and understandable) dialogue as far as locals are concerned. The interpretation, drawing inspiration from Japanese theater, puts a refreshing spin on the 400-year-old play. The costumes bring to mind a Yohji Yamamoto runway. The set makes genius use of the most innocuous things from Daiso. There is live use of video cameras, which gives it an eerie, dystopian feel.

Makbet is the iconic Macbeth, a general who received a prophecy from three witches that he will be King of Scotland one day. He and his wife conspire to take things into their own hands, resulting in a string of murders and a descent into madness.

When I asked the play’s director, Nonon Padilla, whether the interpretation or the staging has anything to do with current political situations, he shrugs. “I think it’s about something deeper,” he says. “It is a story about spiritual corruption.”

It’s tempting to cast real-life characters in Makbet given the state of world affairs. It’s easy to see parallels between fiction and real life. But it is too easy to simplify. What Makbet teaches us is that even the best of us can be corrupted by the slightest hint of fame, glory, or power. We are all tied to our deep instincts for violence, ambition, the mentality of survival of the fittest.

You can see it in Makbet’s eyes. At the beginning, actor George de Jesus III’s eyes shine with youthfulness, hope, a sense of purpose. As he spirals down the hellish depths of his guilt, his eyes turn darker, more manic, redder. We at the bottom wonder what it is about power that consumes people. Makbet’s wife, played by the eternal Irma Adlawan, shows us how possessing power can bring orgasmic ecstasy. The descent is dangerous, the violence, inevitable. Truly, as Kanye said, no one man (or woman) should have all that power.

Makbet is showing on March 29 (Wednesday), 7 p.m., March 23 – 25 and March 30 – April 1, Thursday to Saturday, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are priced at Php 600 each. They can be purchased through Ticketworld, or you may contact Patricia Bautista at 0917 842 5013. 

Image courtesy of Benilde’s Arts and Culture Cluster, photographed by Cyrah Faller.

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