Macbeth of Fire and Ice - Arcola Theatre
Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle
JONGUNTHOR Productions Ltd is presenting the world premiere of Macbeth of Fire and Ice at the Arcola Theatre (Studio 1), where it runs from November 4 (previews from October 30) to November 16, 2013.
Actors, singers, dancers, musicians, boxers and wrestlers perform a high energy and dynamic adaptation of Macbeth, with an Icelandic creative team strongly influenced by Norse mythology and the pagan sagas.
The raw brutality of the Vikings, the Valkyries’ legendary powers of persuasion, a mystic forest covered in Nordic lights, and the hubble-bubble of volcanic eruptions make a fitting alternative backdrop, rife with war and witchcraft.
The context draws us back to Holinshead’s Chronicles (1587), Shakespeare’s own point of reference for the story of the play, which in turn frequently references Northern myths in its version, King Duncan and Macbeth.
In this production, text from the Poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse poems, sets the scene for the Weird Sisters who in Nordic myth control the destiny of human beings as The Norns (one for the past, one for the present, and one for the future) as they group around the tree of life, Yggdrasil.
Throughout the play, there are numerous other links to the Icelandic/Northern pagan belief and ideology: from the idea of ghosts arriving to warn people of the future, to the symbolism of the raven, the extreme, unnatural weather, and the day long winter nights that “strangle the travelling lamp.”
Macbeth of Fire and Ice is directed by award-winning Icelandic director Jon Gun Thor, who said:
“I am Icelandic and I use my cultural background in my approach. When I analysed the text of Macbeth I asked myself: ‘Who are the Weird Sisters? Where do they come from? Why are they the keepers of the sea and land?’’ The answer is in the Norse mythology, the three Norns under Urdar fountain. Due to my cultural background I interpret Macbeth with the assistance of the Northern myths. Of course it is unlikely that it was Shakespeare’s intention to make references to the Norse mythology; however, it is through Shakespeare’s influences and myself as a reader that this link exists.”
Jon Gun Thor studied directing at Drama Centre London from 2003-2006, under Di Trevis, the first female director to work at the National Theatre. He has written and staged twelve plays, and directed opera, musicals, physical theatre, new writing and Shakespeare in the UK and Iceland. His play Lilya (2010) was performed at Contact, Manchester. He also directed Fools for Love at the Silfurtunglid in Reykjavik and received seven nominations for Griman, the Icelandic Theatre Awards.
The cast includes Mark Ebulue (as Macbeth), Molly Gromadzki (Lady Macbeth, Witch), Ben Syder (Second Witch, Malcolm, Fleance, Thane of Cawdor), Joseph Macnab (Banquo, Ross), Alex Britton (Third Witch, MacDuff, Soldier) and Harry Napier (Duncan, Old Man, Gentle Woman).
The production has movement direction by Hannes Thor, musical direction by Harry Napier and lighting by Freyr Vilhjálmsson.
Tickets: £18, £14 concessions – available from the box office on 020 7 503 1646 or online at www.arcolatheatre.com/.
Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.30m, Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.