"Hmmm..." I say to myself, as I watch this new (if slightly lopsided) version of Shakespeare's Macbeth. "Hmmm!" I say again, as I try to hold back my left eyebrow from running into my hairline. It is something I will say to myself many, many times more, in the next two hours. In various inflections.
There's the regular I'm-not-quite-sure-what-to-make-of-this 'hmmm', the mildly inquiring did-anyone-else-see-that 'hmmm?', the what-on-earth-did-he-see-in-it 'hmmm?' and last but not the least, the you've-got-to-be-kidding-me! 'hmmm!!' (Although technically, this is more of a "Whaa..? Hunh?? But, but...how!" and not a 'hmmm' per se, but never mind).
Thing is, Ace production's Macbeth, attempts (for no apparent reason) to draw parallels between Tantra and the plays underlying motifs of the supernatural.
This leads to some rather disturbing results, starting with the very first scene, where the Weird Sisters are doing their whole fire-burn-and-cauldron-bubble-act, only - since Mr. Padamsee has decided that there are parallels between Tantra and Macbeth, they must jolly well be drawn - there is some very disconcerting Tantrik chanting happening in the background.
These Tantrik accents run throughout the play, popping up in the most unexpected places; in Lushin's costume (red and black with ragged sleeves. Tantrik couture anyone?) and in a love-scene between Macbeth and his queen, where they hold each other and sway in half-circles (this is what Sting is such a big fan of?? I don't get it...I just don't get it!).
The actors do a decent enough job, although Lushin Dubey steals the show. She makes a believable (if a little over the top) Lady Macbeth despite the Tantrik trappings of the production. A commendable feat, if you ask us.
It is a sad thing though, that she is the only actor who maintains a consistent accent throughout. Not entirely clipped-Oxford, but somewhere comfortably between that, and the Indian-English we've all grown up with. The rest of the cast pretty much slip-slide through Yank, Brit and (disturbingly enough) Aishwarya Rai* accents.
This is a play that can be watched, provided you have watched many, many other productions of Macbeth. Watch it for the interestingly choreographed scene with the Weird Sisters, for the ghost of Banquo, who appears repeatedly on a bloodied screen (very Ramsay Brothers) and for Lushin's Lady Macbeth.
Most significantly, watch it if you're looking for novelty...in small doses.
* Which is apparently the accent you develop when you've spent only your whole goddamn life in Bombay, been crowned Miss World and acted** in a couple of English movies.
** By which (in this case) I mean, stood in front of a camera and wondered why the hell the darn thing keeps looking at you...almost as if it's expecting you to do something. Stupid camera...!