OUR RATING: Do It!
(Warning, contains some spoilers)
A great Eastern European Banquet. Blood. Murder. The infamous Scottish play comes to life in a secret Zone 2 location. Billed as an immersive theatre piece, the performance takes place from dusk ‘til dawn, RIFT (formerly known as Retz) invites audiences to enter the rift and be transported to spend the night in a murderous building undergoing a series of intense political, emotional and moral conflicts.
Adam: Entering into the world of RIFT’s Macbeth is a hauntingly beautiful, spine-tingling and an (occasionally nervous) laughter-filled adventure. Begin by being whisked into a dark, dangerous void only to emerge into a dimly lit realm of intrigue and vice. The set, real rooms in a undisclosed building, is immense and meticulously dressed, while the acting convincing and consistent. Enter suites aptly named “Fife”, “Edinburgh” and so on, each holding a special scene just for you.
Different to most immersive events, narrative is no lost in scenic design as with recent Punchdrunk shows and is central to your experience. Don’t worry, you won’t miss anything as you are well looked-after (just watch out for the occasional blood-spatter). Interspersed with the action, you’ll have ample opportunities to mingle with fellow guests over many delicious beverages, but make sure you change enough money at the checkpoint on the way in.
My only minor concern (or should I call it confusion) was the choice to base the play in a stereotypical Eastern European/Balkan country called Borduria (which I believe is derived from the Tintin comics) rather than in pure Scotland. I partly find this an unfortunate decision, as Scotland was referred to by cast members often, even when not part of the original play. I feel that perhaps the organisers were subconsciously influenced by the 2007 version of Macbeth at the Chichester Festival Theatre, which was heavily based upon Stalinist Russia. Nevertheless, commitment to accents and characters was brilliant and not to be missed.
Alicia: What truly made this performance unique for me as a regular theatre (and immersive theatre)-goer was the element of personal engagement allowed for and nourished during the production. We were taken along with five other individuals into the first scene, and these were the five individuals we spent the rest of the night with, led by a group guide Natasha, who’s wit and delivery of comic responses to certain situations was absolutely classic! Natasha and the nurturing of the group dynamic created a little family of adventurers (many of us accidental illegal immigrants to the country of Borduria). Encompassing a broad range of unexpected genres – from moments of comedy to the clear dark tones of this tragedy – RIFT transported our entire group through an intimate, chaotic and tension filled epic.
The meal was also quite unexpected. I won’t go into the specifics and ruin the surprise, but RIFT definitely provided a sumptuous feast – and even if you are the most outrageous carnivore I bet you you’ll enjoy the bounteous vegetarian supper! This meal was yet another opportunity to engage with other audience members and the cast, who never once slipped from their characters despite sporting Eastern European accents for countless hours.
I must caution ye all, potential audiences of Macbeth, that this adventure is not without its dangers. I’m not quite sure it passes all of the safety requirements of a large-scale production, and I can feel my foot still throbbing from a raised doorstep and no cautions to watch my step. And if you don’t like stairs, this probably isn’t the production for you either. Nonetheless, I must say I think the level of attention put into such things was mostly acceptable, and I applaud their conversion of the site into their own unique realm without worrying about unnecessary bells and whistles some companies spend a fortune on.
Final Thoughts: We say do it – but don’t get your hopes up too much about immersion lasting from dusk to dawn. The overnight aspect of the performance is not much more than a gimmick, with the performance lasting until 1am or so and with the only morning wrap up being a bit of food, a few minutes of acting and a forced prompt to survey the view from the roof. And make sure you are up for a late night when you opt-in to this, or if you really are tired when the acting ends and the night’s celebration begins, make sure you are proactive about telling the attendants you want to go to sleep – they don’t really make this option clear when the night starts to wind down.
Despite these pitfalls, you really do get your bang for your buck with this production, with hours of personal and engaging performance paired with a delicious feast and the opportunity to share a unique experience with those around you, and the supporting cast of guides and the amazing Alexander Luttley really do make you feel like you exist and matter in this new world. Just watch out about the first impressions you give off – nicknames will stick like glue!