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macbeth, tron theatre, glasgow

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CUTTING EDGE: Daibhidh Walker's leather-clad Macbeth enjoys a drink or two. Picture: Ian Watson
CUTTING EDGE: Daibhidh Walker's leather-clad Macbeth enjoys a drink or two. Picture: Ian Watson

The guy sitting at the table in the Tron's Victorian Bar is on his mobile speaking to the wife. He's on a promise, he reckons, and is about to hit the big time. She's telling him to go for it, but if he's on to something, she wants a piece of the action too. So the guy goes back up to the bar, which is when things get really weird for Macbeth.

Or that's the impression you get from Ian MacDonald's half-hour Gaelic translation of Shakespeare's Scottish play commissioned by Glasgow Life/Glasch Beo. At the moment, Liz Carruthers's work-in-progress production (although not advertised as such) is a one-man affair, with Daibhidh Walker playing Macbeth as a leather-jacketed bar-room big man who suddenly finds he's a contender enough to take on all-comers.

While some of the original text's subtleties may be lost to non-Gaelic speakers, it's not hard to get the broader gist of things as Walker's straight-out-of-Shameless Macbeth downs another drink.

Was that Banquo sitting at his regular table, or was it just a trick of the light as key lines from the play are beamed on to the wall in English? As his former pals turn against him, Macbeth checks the new Facebook page Malcolm's invited all his friends to join, deleting as he goes.

There's a sense of intimacy at play here which is crucial to a re-telling of the story that taps into a spit and sawdust contemporary reinvention of the oral tradition. Whatever happens next in the project's development beyond last week's two performances, it's important that this sensibility is retained in a version that makes Shakespeare look like a very local lad.

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