Stay Home Shakespeare Macbeth hits 3000 viewers

Madcap company still raising smiles by the thousand

By Peter Ormerod  The Scotsman Newspaper

Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 10:12 am

Updated Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 10:12 am

Popular theatre company Oddsocks may be unable to tour at the moment, but that’s not stopping it bringing joy to thousands of families.

The family-run company’s performance of Macbeth, filmed live from their home, attracted an online audience of more than 3,000 when it aired last month.

In response to requests from viewers, Oddsocks has posted the performance on its website and is already planning its next live edited Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ready for live performance on Friday June 19 at 7pm.

“Macbeth really seemed to hit the mark,” said creative producer Elli Mackenzie, who played Lady Macbeth.“We didn’t know whether anyone would tune in. But just before we went on air ,our director, who was hosting the performance through his streaming theatre in LA, calmly told us that there were one and a half thousand people across the world tuned in already and that grew as the performance started. By the end we were streaming live to an audience of over 3,000!”

Artistic director Andy Barrow, who played Macbeth, said: “The response since the broadcast has been tremendous. People have been in touch via social media and email in their droves, telling us that it’s made their lockdown and how they needed a laugh and our performance provided just that.”

The Oddsocks family told the story using the original text - albeit a little trimmed - with three mobile phones, a few laptops and a range of household items such as kitchen spatulas for swords, a colander for Macbeth’s helmet and dolls and a unicorn slipper for apparitions in their fast-moving, ambitious domestic retelling of the tragedy.

Andy and Elli’s 19 year-old daughter Charlie was also roped in to play the roles of Macduff and Banquo and enjoyed herself so much she is signing up for the next performance.

“It really was an experiment to see if we could do it,” says director Kevin Kemp of The Streaming Theatre, based in Los Angeles. “We used twitch.tv as our streaming platform which is usually used by gamers and has recently been expanding into music but this may well be one of the first Shakespeare plays to have been aired via the platform and that is really exciting, as it may have brought a new audience to Shakespeare.”

The performance was cleverly interwoven with references to lockdown. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth sang Happy Birthday when washing the murdered King Duncan’s blood from their hands and Macbeth turned vlogger to speak to the audience through his mobile phone.