Corny and confused

REVIEW / THEATRE

MCBETH

Delta Force Improv

The Projector Blue Room/Tuesday

In Shakespeare's Macbeth, ambition and greed destroy the titular Scottish lord. In Delta Force Improv's McBeth, over-ambition destroys the comic potential of this parody of Shakespeare.

McBeth tries to do too much and mostly fails. Is it an improv evening - Whose Shakespearean Line Is It Anyway? - with the cast of 20 directed by Phil Gruber switching between lines made up on the spot, Shakespearean soliloquies and pop culture tropes?

Or is it an interactive pantomime for adults? Perhaps a comedy club event?

If only director and cast made up their minds instead of awkwardly switching among all three.

The script eviscerates Shakespeare's text until it begs for mercy. Rather than an 11th-century grab for a royal throne, McBeth is an 11th-century grab for a fast-food chicken franchise. This could have been hilarious along the lines of theatrical comedy The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

Anna Jos plays Lady McBeth and Farhan Ahmed is McBeth in McBeth, a parody of Shakespeare.
Anna Jos plays Lady McBeth and Farhan Ahmed is McBeth in McBeth, a parody of Shakespeare. PHOTO: DELTA FORCE IMPROV

But no, the cast merely have an excuse to throw rubber chickens on the floor and get the audience to play innuendo Bingo with corny synonyms for masturbation, such as choking the chicken.

Even worse, there are moments of pure hilarity in the two-hour-long performance that show how potential has been wasted.

Most of the cast are strong performers, badly used. Veteran actress Susie Penrice Tyrie (Mrs MacDuff) is, sadly, hardly used at all.

But Michael Chua updates the comic night porter character Shakespeare wrote with contemporary Singlish humour. Shaiful Risan plays a number of minor roles with jocular intensity and minority humour.

Mark Antony's speech from Julius Caesar is sutured in neatly to lament a royal death and the "Which? Consultants" - instead of Shakespeare's three witches - get the audience to rap the famous "double, double, toil and trouble" speech.

If McBeth stuck with this and left off the rubber chickens, it would not seem so undercooked.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2018, with the headline 'Corny and confused'. Print Edition | Subscribe