Macbeth Muet: Eggs are harmed

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth embrace with blood-stained hands.

In this telling of Macbeth, the absence of dialogue emphasizes the visceral. (Photo by Sophie Gagnon-Bergeron)

Bloody. Good.

In Macbeth Muet, two actors from the Montreal company La Fille du Laitier tell the story of Macbethin about 45 minutes. Although they don’t do it wordlessly, as advertised, they do it without speaking. (At various points, the performers hold up cards, like silent-movie titles, to keep the audience oriented.)

The staging is inventive—sometimes delightful and sometimes thrilling.

The main set piece is a long white table. In the opening moments, the actors are crouched behind that piece of furniture. Then their hands appear and skitter across the surface like noisy spiders. Four of the fingers are legs and the middle fingers look around and sniff the air. They’re creepy as fuck, but who are they? Well, there are three of them and it’s the beginning of the play: they must be the witches. And, sure enough, these creatures grab three of those little folded paper things that we used to use as kids to tell our fortunes and those four-part folded toys become oracular, bird-like mouths.

In adapting the story, creators Jon Lachlan Stewart and Marie-Hélène Bélanger lean into the childlessness of the Macbeths. When the actors give us a little prologue about the life of the couple, we see them court, marry, and copulate. Their babies are represented by eggs, which get smashed—again and again. None of their children live.

Later, when Macbeth comes to murder the Macduff children, he lines up a bunch of eggs on a plate and crushes them all at once. In the abstract, this staging might sound absurd; in lived experience, it’s horrifying.

Not everything works as well. The storytelling slackens a bit around the murder of Banquo and there are lapses of taste: when Lady Macbeth is gearing up to kill herself, the soundscape kicks in with “The Sound of Silence”: “Hello darkness my old friend”, which is too goofy and obvious.

That said, whimsy works well elsewhere: the stalwart Macduff is represented by a goalie’s glove.

The actors, Jérémie Francoeur and Clara Prévost work as precisely as expert butchers—and spill almost as much blood. Francoeur vacillates effectively between twitching guilt and sociopathic calm.

Macbeth Muet is one of the most innovative shows you’ll see this season. I caught it because a friend recommended it. Now I’m recommending it to you. It’s only on for two more nights.

MACBETH MUET Created by Jon Lachlan Stewart and Marie-Hélène Bélanger. A Fille du Laitier production presented by the rEvolver Theatre Festival, with presenting partner Pi Theatre. In the Vancity Culture Lab on Thursday, May 31. Continues until June 1.

Tickets.

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About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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