Review: Devil Speaks True at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

Picture: Sam Holden
Picture: Sam Holden
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William Shakespeare might have died 400 years ago, but his work is as popular now as ever.

Goat and Monkey brought The Devil Speaks True, their immersive tale about post-traumatic stress disorder, to the New Theatre Royal using Shakespeare’s Macbeth as its starting point.

An experimental and deeply-engaging theatrical experience awaited the predominantly young audience, who were almost immediately plunged into darkness.

What followed was an hour of multi-media performance in which we had to use our senses of sight, sound and smell.

The Devil Speaks True put Macbeth’s friend Banquo at the heart of a modern day war, far removed from the eleventh century battle of the original play, and invites the audience to join him.

We join him on his journey home from war.

Despite the strong and emotive concept, the piece was confused at times.

This wasn’t down to lead actor Will Dickie, whose performance matched the wholly pre-recorded audio perfectly.

It was caused by the fusion of the original Shakespearean text and the accounts of three ex-servicemen.

There was a disturbing poignancy in the recordings of people who had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

There was an opportunity to shock the audience and allow them to feel a small amount of the pain expressed in the recordings, but this was unfortunately missed due to the disjointed style of the audio production.

Despite the confusion, some parts of the play had the audience captivated.

They also appreciated the use of headphones to play all the show’s sound, and the minimal lighting.