Note: This review is from the 2016 Fringe

The idea of taking the legend of Macbeth and drawing parallels with the modern mythology of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain seems like an interesting and exciting one. However, for the first ten minutes of MacBain the audience is subjected to watching the characters of Love (Manja Topper) and Cobain (Gillis Biesheuvel) sat on a couch cackling at one another. They talk and talk and talk, but there seems to be no story to speak of. Eventually Love picks up a handbag and for some unexplained reason, smoke billows out and fills the stage. Meanwhile the performers swiftly make their way to the back of the sofa. This could bring the hopeful promise of a surreal change in tone and finally kick start the performance. Finally we will get to witness the magic and tragic drama of Macbeth. Instead the audience has to sit through an uneventful sequence where plastic objects and children’s toys are used to tell Shakespeare’s most celebrated story. These objects are not manipulated in any way to give character or instil personality. Instead they are passed from one actor to the other in a monotonous and uneventful sequence that looks like an unimaginative Punch and Judy show without the main performers.

The creators of MacBain seem to have forgotten that Kurt Cobain wrote rousing and important music that did the rare thing of inspiring a generation whilst maintaining veracity and honesty. He was clearly more than a dumb junky with little intelligence and nothing important to say. In turn Macbeth is a character haunted by the trauma of losing a child. He is a tormented individual filled with passions and contradictions. The male protagonist in MacBain expresses none of these traits and portrays an arrogant and lethargic human being who is in no way interesting or engaging.

Likewise Courtney Love has released excellent music and featured in several fantastic movies, so there is clearly more to her than the junky cliché that is depicted during MacBain. Also, Lady Macbeth is a complex and strong character who shows resilience and strength in times of tragedy. None of this is depth or creativity is apparent in the show, instead the audience experiences an uninspiring version of the Scottish Play with very little imagination and none of the candour and intrigue that the concept promised.