The play I have gone to see is “Macbeth: Bir Fikr-i Firar Meseli” in its original name, Turkish. It can be translated to English as “Macbeth: An Issue of an Idea of Escape”. It is both written and directed by Yılmaz Angay, who is a part of the theatre organization “Tiyatro Yeraltı” – “Underground Theatre Community”, as well as the whole actors. There are three characters playing as the leading roles, whose names are, Anıl Seren, Zeynep Başaran and Doğan Aktaş. The rest of the actors are mostly playing as puppeteers, and they are, Ali Değirmenci, Attila Aytekin, Aylin Topal, Fulya Paksoy, Hüseyin Martlı, Yağmur Yalçın, Sedot. It was performed in the theatre “Tiyatro Tempo” – which is a private theatre company – in 30 March, 2013, in Ankara. The theatre hall was relatively small, with an approximate capacity of 100 people. There were no single chairs to sit, instead, long chairs which are designed for approximately 10 person to sit were placed. Moreover, the chairs were quite close to the stage, which enables to see the actors’ mimics closely and not to miss any word. Before the play started, a few stools were placed on both of the right and left sides of the scene, which never left out of the stage through the entire play.
The play makes its story based on some of Shakespeare’s plays, to wit, The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, Hamlet and Macbeth, and focuses on their plot which involve intrigues, war and masculine dominance. It is based on the idea of escape, clearly, there are three characters chosen from the three different plays of the Shakespeare, who decided to escape from Shakespeare’s pen and written papers, for their fate were determined to be miserable by Shakespeare. These three characters are totally against the main themes in Shakespeare’s plays, which are aforementioned: war, masculine dominance etc. The relation between Macbeth is that, they want to make Macbeth abandon his fate written by Shakespeare, not to kill anyone and live on his own. In fact, they want Macbeth to not to commit any murder, care for his wife more than he used to do; the three characters mostly combine the idea of freedom with these traits.
These three characters were the only ones playing as themselves, apart from that, the story of
Macbeth has been performed by puppeteers, Macbeth, the king and Lady Macbeth were introduced as puppets, which makes one easily say that their fate are determined by someone, in this case, by Shakespeare. Enough significant, there were two Macbeths, one of them was playing in the performance of Macbeth, and one of them was watching the play and thinking about what he has been doing. While he watches, three escaped characters try to enlighten Macbeth and want to make him escape from his determined fate. There are two climax at the play, which are really resemble to each other. First is the scene in which Macbeth is about to decide to escape from his fate, but he gives up, and the play goes on. The second is the last scene in which entire players leave the scene to make Macbeth think about his own situation and decide whether to escape or not, however, the audience gets no information there: after every actors leave, the light goes off slowly and Macbeth does not show any sign of escaping or the opposite. Nevertheless, Macbeth can be considered as in aware of his situation, in other words, he is aware of his determined fate. After all, the play’s overall theme is that every man must “break his chains” and stop acting as in Shakespeare’s plays, stop fighting, stop misbehaving women etc. Furthermore, this idea is also directly told to the audience by the escaped characters, and their story concerning how they have escaped are told to the audience as well. Since these three characters have been representing the “good” side, and the audience were expecting Macbeth to escape and join them, there was a good relationship in between those three characters and the audience. Nonetheless, it can be said that the play falls prey to this greatly simplistic discrimination between the good side and the bad side, i.e. escaped ones and the others.
To talk about the scenes specifically, the most surprising scenes were already mentioned. First one, before which Macbeth abandons the idea of escape, was a very optimistic scene, a lively music was being played to create a sense of optimism, and this optimism creates an excitement among the audience. And, the finale made the audience leave the play confused, one may say that there was no enough clue to have a guess about Macbeth’s final decision, though this situation could be intentionally created. This sense of optimism were not limited within some specific scenes; the actors have been constantly putting humour in the speeches. Eventually, the play was not able to carry its excitement into the finale, therefore, it is reasonable to argue that the audience were not wholly satisfied at the end of the play.
I am not totally in contradiction with the reaction of the audience; a soliloquy of Macbeth could be introduced to the finale, which would make the theme and Macbeth’s thoughts about the whole actions and speeches throughout the play, clarified. There were only the escaped characters’ voice I was able to hear in the whole play, however, hearing a different voice from a different perspective would be better. In general, the play divides people in between two, simply, escaped, good ones and the others, which is the worst aspect of the play. Apart from these, the scenes in which the three characters talk about their story were well prepared.
Lastly, the setting and the production of the performance: the three characters were almost always at the centre-forward of the scene, and the puppeteers were at the behind. Lightning was basically applied on only the ones who speak or speaking on behalf of the puppets. Moreover, there was a shadow play at the left of the scene, which was animating the play, Macbeth, Macbeth at the war, Macbeth when he kills the king, etc. There was a music around when the play was about to reach its peak points, which simply exciting songs played by a transverse flute man, who is also a puppeteer. The music was successful in evoking excitement in the peak points. The costumes were not noteworthy, though. The three characters were dressed-up in an old-fashioned way, and all the puppeteers were dressed-up in pure black dresses. There was a problem with the setting however, sometimes, during the three characters’ speeches, the puppets were acting or there was the shadow play going on, which led me to miss some parts of the shadow play or the puppets” acting, since they were relatively at the back of the scene.
Yakup Kutsal Koca