Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble. Macbeth (oh sorry, the Scottish play!) is probably one of William Shakespeare’s most popular works, and for good reason: who doesn’t love a sinister story of witches, ghosts and battles?
The classic tale will be presented differently in A Tale That Must Be Told: Macbeth, an interactive, family-friendly version of the popular tale, as performed by the KL Shakespeare Players (KLSP).
A Tale That Must Be Told: Macbeth plays at Studio Ramli Hassan in Kuala Lumpur.
This version of Macbeth, which has been made specially age-appropriate by KLSP, retells the iconic story with colourful costumes, dolls and playthings, soundscapes and activities that children are familiar with.
“Macbeth is quite a dark tale. But we had a talk with our consultant, Johnny Gillett, who works often with children. And he said, if you talk about it, how different is the story from Snow White And The Seven Dwarves?” says Lim Soon Heng, a KLSP member and one of the show’s cast.
“Well, one difference is that Snow White has a happy ending. So how do we make a happy ending out of this? We don’t. But we have an ending that is consistent with the play.”
A Tale That Must Be Told: Macbeth was developed together with acclaimed British storyteller Gillett (popularly known as The Journey Man) and will also feature the talents of Nave VJ and Rachel Chin. It is directed by Lim Kien Lee, who is also the artistic director of KLSP.
The young audience can expect to participate in some of the play’s most famous moments, such as the battle scenes, an infamous banquet, and the temptation by the witches. It’s certainly not a sit down and watch quietly sort of performance, says Soon Heng.
“It’s a story told at playtime. The element of play is much bigger here. We’ll have things for the young audience to do, like participate in a chant or a call when Macbeth’s troops fight Cawdor. We make sure the children can always explore things from a safe position,” he adds.
The production will be performed in contemporary English, although some of Shakespeare’s most memorable lines will be making appearances. Prick up your ears, for example, for “fair is foul, and foul is fair!”
KLSP is certainly familiar with this play. It tackled it during Shakespeare Demystified: Macbeth earlier this year. The group will be performing its Demystified version at various schools later this year.
A Tale That Must Be Told: Macbeth, however, is the group’s first attempt at presenting Shakespeare for a younger audience, something Soon Heng says was a long time coming. KLSP had plans for more shows for this age group in future.
“When I directed this show, I thought about different layers. I wanted it to appeal to children, but adults could find different layers of complexity from the play. I thought about Disney movies. Kids enjoy them, but when adults watch them, do we discount it as kiddie stuff? No, we enjoy it differently, we get different things from such movies,” says Kien Lee.
“I hope to get chidlren excited about it. That they talk about things after the show, and become curious about Shakespeare. Some of the famous speeches, we get them to do in the show. And hopefully, in the future, when they read Macbeth again, they remember their experience. It’s about planting seeds,” he concludes.
A Tale That Must Be Told: Macbeth plays at Studio Ramli Hassan, 8A Tepian Tunku, Bukit Tunku in Kuala Lumpur until Sept 10. Showtimes are 11am and 3pm daily. Tickets are RM35 (with RM3 handling fee). More info: diversecity.my.