The Devil Speaks True at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

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There have been many different incarnations of Macbeth on stage and screen, but this production turns the play on its head by turning out the lights.

With wireless headphones, video projections and a solo dancer, theatre company Goat and Monkey recreate the last hours of Banquo’s life in a pervasive first-person adventure.

Sitting in the pitch-black, our aim is to disorientate the audiences’ senses

Joel Scott

The audience are placed behind Banquo’s eyes using the original text of Shakespeare’s Macbeth recorded as binaural sound (recordings that create a 3D effect) positioning them in the action.

This sensory production, much of which takes place in partial or pitch darkness, starts on a battlefield smelling of rain and fir trees, and ends at the spectral banquet table.

The script will be intertwined with recordings of interviews with ex-servicemen, giving context to Banquo’s behaviour through the lens of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition not widely recognised until the 19th century, when it was known as shell-shock or battle fatigue.

By casting Banquo as a battle-weary soldier returning home, Goat and Monkey create a sense of the surreal as Banquo’s disorientated mind tries to make sense of the world he’s returning to, and shed light on the faith he places in his brother-in-arms Macbeth.

Director Joel Scott says: ‘We’re stripping the story down and making an intimate experience for our audience.

‘Sitting in the pitch-black, our aim is to disorientate the audiences’ senses; calm moments of introspection will be split apart with vivid moments of intense theatrical experience.

‘We have intertwined our exploration of Banquo with incredible interviews that we’ve conducted with British war veterans.

‘Their experiences of living with the psychological effects of combat have illuminated Banquo’s story to us with chilling clarity.’

Goat and Monkey was founded in 2003 by Joel and Sally Scott and Ian Summers, who specialise in site-specific productions in locations such as woodlands, museums and railway carriages.

The Devil Speaks True is at New Theatre Royal on March 9. Show starts at 1pm, tickets cost £10. Visit newtheatreroyal.com to book.