"Mcbeth: Un Rey Alamala" - Finest Chilean Shakespeare

“Not what I expected,” says Zach Simon of the Santiago Times in reaction to Teatro Alamala's performance of the Shakespearean classic. With a missing "A" from its title, only two witches, a gay romance, token stoner character, and even fake blood, it's probably not what Shakespeare intended for, either.

Photo by Pilar Díaz
Photo by Pilar Díaz

The uniqueness of Alamala's production is evident from the very start. The lack of scenery is immediately apparent and the amphitheater stage remains empty except for a small, black and red curtain that serves as a makeshift divider between the actors and the audience. As with most other versions of the play, the opening monologue informs the crowd of the superstition surrounding the name “Macbeth” and instigates a ritual chant meant to banish the bad fortune surrounding it. However, unlike most other versions of the play, Teatro Alamala’s mantra is not “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!” but “Mierda! Mierda! Mierda!”

Mcbeth: Un Rey Alamala. Photo by Pilar Díaz
Mcbeth: Un Rey Alamala. Photo by Pilar Díaz

For just over an hour, well-rehearsed dance numbers and slapstick comedy establish a loose, playful environment between actor and observer. The gravity of a haunted king’s tragic demise is overshadowed by the comical shenanigans of amateur actors doing what they love to do. Whether it’s spontaneous audience interaction, an off-stage actor-turned-stagehand accidentally breaking into the spotlight, or even the odd rat creeping on set, it's certain that no two productions of this play will be exactly the same.

The superb appeal of Teatro Alamala’s work is in its simplicity. The kilted cast of four ingeniously transform the normal elegance of Elizabethan theatre into a modern-day comedy. Mcbeth: Un Rey Alamala
Mcbeth: Un Rey Alamala. Photo by Pilar Díaz
Everyday chilenismos, such as "weon" and "carrete", and emphasis on low-budget props like squirty blood from a ketchup bottle and a CD used as a stethoscope, put a refreshingly unique spin on one of Shakespeare’s better-known works. The play incorporates political gibes, Santaguino references and jovial Scottish jokes. Tellingly, when asked if there was any particular reason for omitting the letter “A” from the title, Alamala’s spokesperson responded, “Mcbeth, como Mcdonalds.... ;-).”

The tragic king, Macbeth, is played by Cristian Castro, who also doubles as Lady Macduff. Patricio Valderrama steals the show with his hilarious portrayals of Lady Macbeth, the unexpectedly zoned-out and intoxicated Malcolm, Banquo, and niño. David Soto excellently plays Ross, asesino, enfermero, and bruja, whilst Alex Riffo brilliantly serves as the play’s hero, Macduff, Rey Duncan, asesino, bruja, and doctor. Mcbeth: Un Rey Alamala
Mcbeth: Un Rey Alamala. Photo by Pilar Díaz
Meanwhile, Cecilia Verdugo and Irene Antonietti are in charge of the magic backstage as the show’s production technicians.

Considering that the show is free, although donations are welcomed, it goes without saying that Teatro Alamala’s “Mcbeth: Un Rey Alamala” is a must-see. The party you’re going to probably doesn’t start until midnight anyway, so why not start the night with some culture?

Teatro Alamala’s “Mcbeth: Un Rey Alamala”
April 29 to May 1 and May 6 to 8, 2011
20:00 hrs
Free, donations welcome!
Anfiteatro at Museo Bellas Artes
Metro Bellas Artes (Green Line) or Catolica (Red Line)

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