Written by Andy Cannon
Based on the works of William Shakespeare
Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and then King hereafter – let’s face it, you know the story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. But what about Hector’s Macbeth? Ralph’s? Thought not. Deliciously morbid, revived as whimsically creative and comedic, Is This A Dagger? infuses a sense of historical awakening to one of literature’s most renowned texts.
The finest weavers of tales know where the narrative requires a tweak or a stretch of the imagination. They recognise the inspirations of masterworks and the methods to draw audiences into the world of complex literature while re-igniting those who may have become disillusioned with their original introductions. Andy Cannon condenses a thousand years of myth and blood into a resoundingly elegant tale of fire, fury and spectacle. But with a few laughs, naturally.
And beneath this cunning deceit belays a mastery of storytelling – not merely in practice and skill, but adoration of craft and subject. With not but some spectacles, tin of shortbread and a rather spiffing scarf, Cannon conjures the depravities and nightmares of Macbeth’s murkier characters. Each characterisation individual, some with remarkable depth, with enough diversity in performance to separate the cast of rogues and victims with ease. Physically, vocally, and no doubt mentally, Cannon gnarls into the Wyrd sisters three, or brings a blunt and horrific accuracy to the deadpan McDuff.
Transforming a tragedy into a comedy presents distasteful issues, none of which present themselves. Indeed, a rather touching sense of respect is maintained throughout Is This A Dagger? Even with the tongue-in-cheek jabs and capers. But fret not, the listing of a Children’s Show doesn’t mean the humour is stilted or predictable, quite the opposite, and even more marvellous is that the darkness is still present and elevated amidst the light-hearted humour. Shadow manipulation, lightning and sound effects all play into the eager palms of frightened grannies and enraptured kids.
There are a million ways to interpret Macbeth: from animation to contemporary war drama – puppet show to expensive national tours. But once in a while, when the wind turns in the right direction, something positively wicked this way comes which captures the delicate aspects, magnifies the brilliance, and recreates the magic once again for further generations.
Is This A Dagger? is playing on selected dates at The Scottish Storytelling Centre. Tickets can be found here.