This is how not to combine Shakespeare with music. The premise of a Macbeth told through a series of songs is not a bad one – the brisk, straightforward narrative and sheer quantity of iconic moments/speeches in the play practically lend itself to a more abstract treatment. I could even brook Shakespeare's lines being sung – but not like this.
The opening piece – a gently swelling rendition of the (already musical) witches' spell was bearable, but after this I was lost. In the pursuit of a musical line all attempts at enunciating and expressing the lines were lost. Really famous lines were swallowed or mangled, and the musical superaddition we got in exchange was neither enlightening or even really entertaining. Add to this the perennial issue of the background music and vocal arrangements drowning out the principal speaker, and even such a well-known play becomes difficult to follow.
Instead of drawing on the power of Shakespeare's own dialogue and dramaturgy – which must surely be the reason for presenting Macbeth as opposed to anything else – the production determined to distract at every turn. The hollow, imported grandeur of chanting “benedictus deo” or “kyrie eleison” through (or rather, over) the emotive bits, or the inexplicable ninja choreography this Japanese-skinned play relentlessly showcased were worse than irrelevant.
As we were warned, this is Song of the Goat's first Fringe, swept in from Poland seemingly on a tide of glossy and self-indulgent handouts. Before they succeed in these parts, the company need to better grasp, and better navigate, the difference between the abstract and the incoherent.