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STEEPED IN BLOOD – Macbeth Stripped Down

In 2023 I was commissioned by the international Shakespeare Festival in Neuss, Germany to create a monologue performance (i.e. storytelling) of a Shakespeare play. I chose Macbeth. LOADS of work later I perforemd on a Saturday night and then the Sunday afternoon. Wow! What an intense tale it is. No pics apart from of the Globe itself but a review from Der Rheinische Post (kindly translated by Phillip Heitman) and a pic of Theatr Globe itself. I shall start touring this in UK now in clubs, Arts Centres, theatres, Secondary Schools so get in touch if you’re interested.

DER RHEINISCHE POST trans. Philip Heitman

Masterful fast-forward

Neuss · British storyteller Giles Abbott takes the audience on a wild Shakespearean journey and immerses them deeply in Shakespeare’s world.

As Giles Abbott enters the stage Saturday night, it’s pretty windy outside, one could even speak of a small storm sweeping across the festival grounds. It wouldn’t be scary. Normally. If Abbott, a master of storytelling, wouldn’t beginn his story about Macbeth directly with the three “Weird Sisters”, the three fateful witches who prophes the royal general’s rise to kingship. And if you’re familiar with the original scene from the tragedy by William Sheakespeare, you will know that a violent thunderstorm is brewing when the three sisters of destiny meet and ominously recite “Say, when will the three of us meet / When thunder cracks or when lightning flashes?” and howl through the Scottish Highlands.

Abbott could not have asked for a better setting for his performance. During the show, the doors of the Globe rattled and the Briton, who fell in love with traditional storytelling in a pub in West Yorkshire at the beginning of the millennium and was awarded several prizes for this art, managed to convey the background story to the audience within a few minutes and to make the most important protagonists of the five-act play comprehensible. Very impressive. Because it’s not easy. As a listener, you first have to be able and willing to immerse yourself in the historical and cultural context of the piece and remember names like Macbeth, Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Banquo, Fleance or Macduff. Evelyn Hamann (German comedienne from the 70’s, did a famous skit on the complexity of English pronunciation ) would really enjoy reciting these names, and it is probably even more than understandable for all English teachers if their student, after reading the notorious „Reclam“ edition of Macbeth will be tossing the book straight to the bin out of sheer frustration.

But Abbott wouldn’t be Abbott if he didn’t know and wouldn’t be prepared for all of this. And so he skilfully pulls together the storylines of the classic story, skims scenes  that seem less important to him and  instead emphasizes the details of the individual characters through dynamic facial expressions and gestures. It’s wonderful how, for example, he stages the cunning of Lady Macbeth time and time again: “It seems to me, dear husband, that you seem to be quite successful in boycotting an evening dinner. “The audience has succumbed to Abbott’s narrative charm from minute one. And after about an hour, what was inevitable, happens: Macbeth’s reign of terror is crushed, he is killed and order restored in Scotland. And outside the sun shines again.“