Sunday 12pm-2pm. We enter the sixth and final day of Forced Entertainment’s titanic project- presenting all but one of Shakespeare’s dramas in the Barbican’s Pit Theatre. The final day is dropkicked into action with spirited performances of Macbeth and Pericles, performances twenty-six and twenty-seven respectively. Neither Richard Lowdon nor Cathy Naden display any signs of tiring and both performances are strong.
Sheffield-based company Forced Entertainment consists of a fine group of storytellers. These performances represent stripped-back Shakespeare. Aesthetically simple, enchanting and fun. The action unfolds upon a wooden workshop table. Characters are represented by an array of objects atop the table. Richard Lowdon performs Macbeth with a droll and assured confidence. His explanations of mass-murder and the simultaneous descents towards insanity stroll casually towards the play’s bloody climax. He captures Macbeth wonderfully.
After a five-minute interval Cathy Naden takes her seat at the workshop table. Her performance of Pericles is kore refined than Lowdon’s Macbeth. Naden is very funny. Pericles is crammed with almost unbelievable twists and turns. Critics have found problems with the play for centuries. Naden uses the props well- aerosol cans, jars and other non-descript tools represent the characters. There is an interesting disparity between the events and the way their characters are represented by these everyday objects. The reconciliation scenes between Pericles and his estranged daughter, Marina, and then with his estranged wife, Thaisa, at the end of the play are brushed over with confident alacrity. Credit to both of these performers.
In a way both performances are limited by their innovative forms. It is overall difficult to maintain the dramatic tension of both dramas through a brief synopsis of their plots. But, this is a statement. A warm reminder of the power of simplicity, the mundane, the everyday, and above all, the power of storytelling. Enormous, stripped back storytelling.