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Reviewed by:
  • Macbeth
  • Kit Baker
Macbeth. By William Shakespeare. Theater 2000, Zagreb. Pula, Croatia. 1 August 1997.

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Figure 1.

Lady Macbeth (Branka Trlin) and Macbeth (Vili Matula) in Theater 2000 of Zagreb’s production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Henryk Baranowski. Pula, Croatia. Photo: Sandra Vitaljic.


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Figure 2.

Duncan/Hectate (Sreten Mokrovic) and Lady Macduff (Ksenija Pajic) in Theater 2000 of Zagreb’s production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Henryk Baranowski. Pula, Croatia. Photo: Sandra Vitaljic.


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Figure 3.

Lady Macduff (Ksenija Pajic), Lady Macbeth (Branka Trlin), and Duncan/Hectate (Sreten Mokrovic) in Theater 2000 of Zagreb’s production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Henryk Baranowski. Pula, Croatia. Photo: Sandra Vitaljic.


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Figure 4.

Duncan (Sreten Mokrovic), Macduff (Vojislav Stojkovic-Stole), son of Macduff (Gustav Matula), and Lady Macduff (Ksenija Pajic) in Theater 2000 of Zagreb’s production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Henryk Baranowski. Pula, Croatia. Photo: Sandra Vitaljic.

Theater 2000 is one of Croatia’s first independent theatre companies, launched in a spirit of rebellion by leading actors yearning to break from the country’s officially sanctioned theatre. Founder Vili Matula chose to debut his company with Macbeth, a suitably provocative choice—the play is, after all, the story of a bloodthirsty warlord, and local parallels would not be lost on a single audience member. Matula and Branka Trlin, the portrayers of the Macbeths, sold their Zagreb apartment to finance half the production, and the Istrian coastal resort of Pula, a town which shares Theatre 2000’s occidental spirit, donated the use of a sprawling nineteenth-century fortress as the outdoor location for the play.

Theater 2000’s choice of director was the Polish Henryk Baranowski. The director dressed his actors in Balkan combat fatigues and peppered the action with instances of physical and psychological brutality which are only faintly suggested in Shakespeare’s text. Yet this Macbeth was not just about the Balkans—the dreamy, nonnaturalistic style of the production probed the psyches of Shakespeare’s characters with astonishing precision and depth, making them both individualized and immediately recognizable.

A powerful tone of subconscious mayhem was set from the very start, and continued as the audience was led to the sound of kettle drums from courtyard to rampart, from tree-lined nook to moat. The lights came up on Duncan (the excellent Sreten Mokrovic) dressed in a white naval commander’s uniform and puffing on a pipe as an electric guitar screamed Hendrix-like feedback over the speakers. Malcolm (Jasmin Novljakovic), machine gun strapped to his shoulder, performed a weird somnambulistic march as if he were a wind-up toy constantly playing out the end of its motion. Three vamps dressed in gaudy disco clothes and donning cheap wigs cavorted on the iron gate behind as MacDuff (Vojislav Stojkovic-Stole) lurched his way towards this scary bunch along the ramparts above, his head thrown back, his feet shuffling. Until the [End Page 242] very end of the play, it seemed that MacDuff’s every move was constrained by invisible ropes of evil. Malcolm interrupted his sinister pacing to mock-strangle Duncan from behind as the doomed king continued to puff nonchalantly away. MacDuff finally collapsed center stage and began to deliver his report from the front; the suddenly alert Malcolm leapt forth and held a revolver to the exhausted thane’s cranium, fearing treachery. Around five minutes had passed before the first word was spoken. With such strong moments, the fact that the Croatian text might be unintelligible to foreign ears proved a minor problem. Over half of Shakespeare’s text had in fact been cut in favor of a constant flow of such stage imagery.

Another particularly potent sequence was set in Macbeth’s castle immediately before Duncan’s murder. Lady Macbeth (in a magnificent performance by Branka Trlin) emerged from behind a tarpaulin where Duncan, a tyrant with no qualms about exercising his royal prerogative, had just bedded her. After a postcoital wash, she plunged her hands into the water and...

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 242-246
Launched on MUSE
1998-05-01
Open Access
No
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