The Paper Cinema are pretty well established in their industry at this point. Having been established thirteen years ago in 2004, they have toured Britain and the world with multiple shows, earning praise and accolades across the board. This year, they come to the Fringe to recreate one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies: Macbeth.
“Macbeth does not suit being told in this format”
There is, without doubt, a distinct artistry and intricacy to The Paper Cinema’s work. Creating expansive scenes on screen in real time with multiple cameras, a live score and a huge quantity of paper props, The Paper Cinema puts on a logistically stupendous performance. But, I am a firm believer in the idea that the story must be subservient to the form, and here, that just doesn’t seem to be the case.
Don’t get me wrong, Macbeth is, without a doubt, a stunning play, and surely lies among Shakespeare’s best. But, it is entirely a character-based production, documenting the rise and fall of Macbeth, leading to his ultimate demise. The whole play relies on developing this central character in a slow, believable manner, making his descent into madness a natural progression. But, with paper props, stuck in a specific shape, with a specific facial expression, character development is near impossible. The Paper Cinema’s Macbeth fails to convey any sense of character for the players, and instead feels like it merely goes through the motions of Shakespeare’s powerhouse of a play.
What’s more, Macbeth uncut comes in at least two and a half hours. Although I am not precious about cutting the script in any way, The Paper Cinema’s Macbeth gets the running time down to just one hour. In that time, there is simply not enough time to cover the story. Vast subplots are completely cut, and the main story is rushed through, skipping from one major event to another, losing all the slow-building tension which makes Macbeth such an electric production. If you switch off for just a moment, you’ll miss whole scenes and plot twists, which is frankly far too fast for a Fringe production.
The Paper Cinema’s Macbeth is an artistically impressive production, but has the deep-rooted flaw that Macbeth does not suit being told in this format. More linear, storytelling-esque productions would allow The Paper Cinema to flourish, as they have in the past. But this time around, it feels painfully two-dimensional.
Pleasance Courtyard, 22nd – 26th August, 1:45pm
Image: The Paper Cinema