by Lynn on August 10, 2023

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Theatre Centre, (Franco Boni Theatre) a 1s1 Production , co-produced by Why Not Theatre, Toronto, Ont. Plays until Aug. 12, 2023.

Adapted, created and directed by Ramesh Meyyappan

Lighting by Andre du Toit

Set by Jung-Hye Kim

Costumes by Carlyn Rahusaar Routledge

Sound/composer, Jenna Geen

Cast: Dawn Jani Birley

Joshua Bosworth

Sturla Alvsvåg

Ramesh Meyyappan has created, adapted and directed a fascinating and beautiful piece of theatre, based on Macbeth but from Lady Macbeth’s point of view as first a buoyant expectant mother, and then as a grieving one.

From the production material: “Lady M (Margaret) is a new, Deaf-led adaptation of Macbeth that explores Shakespeare’s famous power couple with an intersectional experience for both Deaf and hearing audiences.”

The production is set in the First World War. Macbeth (Sturla Alvsvåg) and Duncan (Joshua Bosworth) are both fighting for the cause. They are both fearless and tenacious. Macbeth gets a letter from his wife Margaret (Dawn Jani Birley) saying she is pregnant. She encloses a small blue knitted baby cap for him to hold dear during battle.

When Macbeth returns home for leave, he is accompanied by Duncan to help celebrate. They all drink to their health. Things might not be what they seem. While Macbeth is asleep because of the drink, Duncan questions Margaret if the baby is in fact his. We are now drawn into a delicate, dangerous dance between the three characters.

As the information states, this is a new Deaf-led adaptation of Macbeth produced by 1s1 a company created by Deaf-Artist, Dawn Jani Birley, creating “Deaf-led projects by culturally and linguistically Deaf professional artists”

The melding of the languages—both American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken—is seamless. When Macbeth returns and embraces Margaret, he signs in ASL to her, but also vocalizes what he is tenderly saying to her. Both the Deaf members of the audience, and the hearing members are included equally in the story and conversation.  

As Lady M (Margaret) Dawn Jani Birley is such a vivid presence. Emotions bubble inside her. She is as eloquent with her hands signing as she is expressive dramatically with her whole body. There are so many ‘sides’ to her character: loving wife, perhaps sensual lover; deceptive participant, all compelling.  Sturla Alvsvåg is a boyish Macbeth; energetic in battle and tender in his embrace of Margaret. When he learns he has been deceived, he is brutal.  And as Duncan, Joshua Bosworth also has secrets and hides them well, until he gets the upper hand and plays it.

Director Ramesh Meyyappan has created some of the most arresting images in the theatre that I have seen in a long time. His staging of Margaret’s quick change from grieving mother to a younger time is almost balletic it’s so graceful and magical. His work is economical and startling. The lighting by Andre du Toit creates such a compelling, provocative atmosphere, as does the sound of Jenna Geen. It’s almost like a foreboding sound. Everything about this stunning production is exquisite and gripping.

Bravo to 1s1 and Why Not Theatre for bringing such a challenging, beautiful production to Toronto.

1s1 Production and Why not Theatre present:

Runs until Aug. 12, 2023.

Running time: 60 minutes.

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