Het Vijfde Bedrijf

Lady M.

The Edinburgh Reporter *****

Unquestionably and unequivocally an Edinburgh Reporter Fringe must-see.

Being all things the antithesis of a society hostess, Lady MacBeth, a mother grieving for her lost infant, invokes Satanic succor to commit regicide by displacement proxy. Subsequently goes insane. Finally commits suicide. Thus, in the Scottish Play, her candle burns fiercely but briefly.

But, how things might have been so different if she had but confided in her devoted lady-in-waiting recently risen from swineherd/kitchen-skivvy to her now intimate status. This one-lady show, part eulogy for a fallen Queen, part visceral rant at Shakespeare’s (possible!) dismissive misogyny for writing her as dumbed-down foil to the bumbling Doctor’s observations as Lady M, descends into guilt-ridden insanity, and really should set The Fringe ablaze. She has some other serious issues with the bard that merit spleen-venting of a decidedly perspirational profuseness. And, just why a pissed Porter gets a whole soliloquy of duff jokes, even by the Bard’s low standard of groundling pleasing gags, really gets her goat.
We see character role-play shifting with seamless dexterity as, Dutch actress, Annemarie de Bruijn, revels in her interpretive battle to unlock the psycho-dynamism that drives ambitious people to leap from the pinnacle of achievement in to a bloodbath of hubris.

Along the way we gain valuable culinary insights as to how one can best prepare haggis using a black balloon. With unlimited licence and experimental surreality taken as a given, Bruijn’s tour-de-force performance explodes with passionate rage and helpless, tender incredulity as she eves-drops on her mistress’s conspiratorial regicide. The minimalist set and evocative use of light and shadow create an atmosphere of seething mystery and unspoken fears. That ‘blood will have blood’ she is powerless to prevent. Our focus of impending horror centres on a red, silken bed pillow. Redolent in potent symbolism it is a precursor to her now ugly drunken Lady’s imminent self-immolation. She can but observe, lamenting, something to the effect, that she only ‘…begs with a token of her love, devotion and loyalty/and vows of silent complicity.’

Unquestionably and unequivocally an Edinburgh Reporter Fringe must-see.

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John Kennedy

A Younger Theatre ****

...one of this piece’s achievements is its ability to convey cataclysmic social change through the powers of a single actress...

Lady M is a dynamic Shakespearean re-interpretation aimed at rehabilitating Lady Macbeth’s serving-woman – who, as the play resentfully underlines, appears in only one scene of the original Macbeth. This one-woman piece seesaws between frenetically physical acting on the part of its performer,

Annemarie de Bruijn of Het Vijfde Bedrijf (The Fifth Act) – who makes the most of her undoubted gift for comic mime – and lyrical interludes in which the maid recounts her mistress’s sinuous and troubling charms.

De Bruijn is an immediately engaging figure, talking to the audience as they arrive and coaxing them into complicity with her as she lays out the terms of her grudge against Shakespeare: “I was cut,” she protests. Lady M’s posters proclaim its “Not by Shakespeare” status, but the piece actually incorporates swathes of its original, often at top speed. De Bruijn offers adept and hilarious renditions of a number of roles – her mimicry of the drunken Porter, whose larger role the maid envies and begrudges, is outstanding – but Lady M as a whole does require an existing knowledge of Macbeth; many of its pleasures would be lost without such familiarity.

This self-aware and participatory piece never loses sight of the fact that transformative works are reliant on the advent of new audiences. Director David Geysen has made creative use of the performance space: a white-painted chest which forms the centrepiece of Lady M’s minimal set is whirled through a dizzying series of transformations – from chicken-coop to pigsty, from the bed where King Duncan meets his end to the banqueting table where Banquo’s shade is an unwelcome extra guest. The metatheatrical commentary accompanying such changes occasionally becomes wearisome, but on the whole De Bruijn is able to infuse her surroundings with the gleeful, energised awareness that, in the absence of all principal roles, she can finally take centre stage. Macbeth is a play soaked both in blood and magic, and Lady M uses simple lighting and sound to develop an authentically creepy and violent aura, dominated by effective use of deep blues and blood-reds. In this highly-coloured world, everything is possible: one of this piece’s achievements is its ability to convey cataclysmic social change through the powers of a single actress.

Punctuated by well-played comic sequences, the building tension in Lady M nevertheless shadows that of its Shakespearean parent. The serving-woman (who despite her vehement protest against ‘type’ names, like First Murderer, is never named herself) is an unintended witness to the aftermath of Duncan’s death. As the blood-founded court disintegrates around her, she too struggles with what she has seen – not only a gory despoilment of the “perfect bed” that she herself made, but also the shocking complicity of her lady. De Bruijn is at her most compelling when she speaks of Lady Macbeth herself, dreamily tracing her mistress’s perambulations in the castle courtyard – “as if she walks to music, that’s how she walks” – and imbuing each recounted interaction with an uneasy, intimate eroticism. She washes Lady Macbeth, dresses her, “puts her to bed”, and suffers analogously to her, afflicted not by guilty sleepwalking but by irresolvable insomnia: she knows who is to blame, and keeps her silence not only for fear’s sake, but for love. With discretion comes promotion, marked by a clever costume change. De Bruijn opens the play clad in striking white undergarments with a distinctly medieval flavour, but when she is bumped up the social ranks by her willingness to conceal the truth of Duncan’s murder, she acquires the top half – and the top half only – of a lady of quality’s damask costume. Her ruff is perfect and her bodice ornate, but beneath it all hang the baggy white drawers in which she first appeared.

This unresolved visual doubleness exemplifies the task that Lady M has set for itself. It’s a play that wants to recover the domestic underpinnings which even non-purist Shakespearean tragedy often neglects, but it also offers an unusual angle on the metaphysical preoccupations which animate Macbeth itself, exploring old questions of power, mortality and transience from the perspective of “the bit parts”. This light-hearted and edgy take on Shakespeare demands a lot from De Bruijn, who is required to finesse her way through a variety of registers, but she leave us with the impression of an accomplished performer capable of shedding light on the outlying reaches of Shakespearean womanhood.

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Chloe Stopa-Hunt (02 August 2012)

Whatspeenseen - blog ****

One thing is for certain after having watched this – one scene certainly was not enough.

What would you do if Shakespeare only gave you one scene to express yourself? Lady M is the tale of Macbeth – only this time, from the perspective of a chambermaid. Annemarie de Bruijn, as the Chambermaid, carries the weight of the world on her shoulders as she discovers the death of the king at the hands of Macbeth; she also carries the plays unbounded energy and holds the attention of the audience - despite being in an auditorium which appears to be the hottest place on Earth.

There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe the captivating performance by de Bruijn, who seems tireless as she bounds around the stage taking us through the several rooms of Macbeth's castle. She is truly superb in this role, and needs to be, too; without this ability to hold the audience to her every word, the play would be lost. She holds together a stream of complicated events. As odd as this may sound, however, despite being a one woman play de Bruijn must surely thank her supporting acts; the technical aspects of this piece are enough to give a lighting and sound operator nightmares.

The set design was also marvellous; incredibly simple, but enabling the narrative of the piece to flow correctly. We know it is difficult to mention a piece of new writing without making reference to the writing itself, and de Bruijn, who also wrote the piece, has done a perfect job of capturing the indignation of the lead (and only) character. The one problem I can find with this set up is that it is questionable how far this ship would be able to go without its creator at the helm. It is impossible to imagine this character being played without such energy.

This thoroughly entertaining, high octane and humorous performance holds your attention from start to finish, with no time for a breather – which might actually be advisable; de Bruijn looks like she might keel come curtain. One thing is for certain after having watched this – one scene certainly was not enough.

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Broadway Baby ****

A Skittish Play

This is Macbeth as you’ve never seen it before, through the eyes of Lady Macbeth’s surprisingly up-beat lady-in-waiting (de Bruijn). Reduced to a single scene by Shakespeare, she is very welcoming towards the audiences who have come to hear her side of the story.

This is a woman who, as the play Macbeth starts, is battling chickens in a coop. As Macbeth and Banquo walk on the heath, she is sorting through pigs’ ears in a barrel. Unconcerned by political machinations, her principal interest in the arrival of Duncan is what to cook. In the wrong place at the wrong time however, her story slowly intertwines with that of her mistress. By the end, with an impressive coup de théâtre, the lady-in-waiting’s importance is all too obvious.
It is easy for reinterpretations of classics from another angle to veer into GCSE creative writing territory, a trap which Lady M avoided. Although, as she wryly remarked, character development is normally the privilege of principal characters, the lady-in-waiting was a nuanced character. This characterisation was helped by de Bruijn’s strong physicality and inventive use of props, transforming a white wooden chest by turns into a chicken coop, bed and dining table.
Comparisons with other bit-part-from-Shakespeare plays are inevitable. The script, by de Bruijn, Radna Diels and Annechien Koerselman, lacks the depth and wit of Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, yet it has subtleties of its own. Within the lady-in-waiting’s plea for recognition there was an underlying question about the relegation of domestic, and particularly women’s, work to the margins of theatre.

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Charlotte Kelly

Edinburgh Spotlight ****

...captivating and truly impressive...

Annemarie de Bruijn’s Lady M for Netherlands’ Het Vijfde Bedrijf (The Fifth Act) is – to use that oft-used phrase – a ‘tour de force’. Written and performed by the actress, this is an entertaining and mesmerising showcase for her cheeky charm, concentrated physicality and focused terror.

Engaging her audience from entry with cheery chatter, this servant in the household of the Macbeths has much to say about Shakespeare’s choices when it comes to writing his characters in and out. Reduced to a bit part, illustrating with beautifully specific detail the course of her day in contrast to Macbeth’s and Banquo’s, showing the minutiae of her service and her adoration of Lady Macbeth, she gleefully leads you through bursts of laughter and meta-theatrical commentary, before creating a profound understanding of horror.

De Bruijn’s comic timing and physicality, her immersion in the world of this maid – who sees what she should not and, for silence, is raised from pigsty and garbage duties to wait upon her lady directly – is captivating and truly impressive. Occasional stillness is heightened by sections of high speed delivery which propel the play along, though meaning is sometimes diffused for Shakespeare’s lines and some necessary words are lost.

The staging is simple and clever. Set includes a bed frame, where the maid is bloodied (this motif as strong here as in Shakespeare’s play) and a lidded box that is chicken coop, pigsty and murder beds. Lighting and sound create the contrasting atmospheres of daily domesticity and slaughtering tyranny, and the Macbeths are present in occasional voice over as well as animated by the actress herself. A particular sound highlight is a cry that is repeated – a shriek of shocking impact that becomes the caw of those ominous birds of Shakespeare’s rich imagery: the raven that croaks himself hoarse, the crow that wings its way to the rooky wood.

The play shifts from comedy to tragedy and the servant’s journey of promotion and loss mirrors her mistress’s. Where Lady Macbeth sleepwalks, her maid is tortured by insomnia, both wishing to be clean of the blood that haunts them, and the resultant climax of this terror, combined with disillusionment for the maid, would indeed be worthy of Shakespeare’s talents – if only he had thought to write it. Instead, the servant must tell you, raising herself from bit part to central figure, fighting for the right of minor characters to be heard and calling for a justification of Shakespeare’s choices and a redress in her favour, while catching audience members squarely in the eye and making a fair stab for their guts as well.

Lady M is an awe-inspiring piece of solo theatre that impresses greatly with de Bruijn’s skills and stamina, reminds of hidden life that is contained within every person and highlights the drama of Shakespeare’s Scottish play by turning it inside out and, in one aspect, upside down.

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Danielle Farrow

Fringe Biscuit

Stealing the Stage: Lady M

“I do this for all the bit parts!” proclaims Annemarie de Bruijn, with the air of a revolutionary. She certainly resembles one. Striding across the stage, red-haired, ruff-clad and radiating energy, de Bruijn is far more than Lady Macbeth’s mere housemaid – she is definitive of the modern tragic heroine.

In Lady M, Dutch company Het Vijfde Bedrijf (The Fifth Act), re-imagines Macbeth through the eyes of a common, nameless serving girl, stuck working menial jobs in the castle. An accidental witness to the murder of King Duncan, the housemaid quickly becomes embroiled in the ensuing mayhem. Interestingly, her role is almost always that of the active bystander, the passive accomplice, never the perpetrator.

So why focus on her?

In 1949, American dramatist Arthur Miller affirmed that the common man was “as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were.” Lady M is the simultaneous adoption and rejection of this idea.

De Bruijn’s portrayal acknowledges the paradox of the modern generation – the most technologically advanced and (arguably) the most globally aware, but also the most self-assured about our individual significance on the world stage, no matter the wealth of evidence to the contrary. The haunting scene in which de Bruijn cowers beneath Duncan’s soiled bed, the dead king’s blood dripping onto her face is analogous with our own relative paralysis as individuals in the face of political scandal, distant drug wars and aggressive foreign policy agendas – issues of which we are aware and tacitly implicated, but over which (it seems) we have no real control.

Het Vijfde Bedrijf’s production is minimal in set and lighting, with white and red working as prodominant colours, nodding to the relative “purity” of the human soul slowly marred by unconscionable acts of evil. We watch as de Bruijn, originally clad in snowy garb, adds red accessories to illustrate her growing prominence and collusion with the Macbeths, finally resulting in bloodstained hands.

If modern tragedy is, as Miller believed “the underlying struggle of the individual attempting to gain his ‘rightful’ place in society”, then Lady M raises questions as to what the average individual’s role should be in today’s world.

In an age where we like to assert our individualism through social media platforms and reality tv shows, many would wholeheartedly reject the idea of their own insignificance. Yet in comparison to world events or even the weather, are we anything more than “bit parts”? And if so, are we still obliged to fight for moral causes, with the knowledge that the individual effort is often negligible on the world stage?

Near its climax, Lady M veers away from Macbeth’s original plot, placing decisive, life-or-death power in the hands of de Bruijn’s character – and it is at this point that the play becomes somewhat improbable, not least because the tables have turned completely, and the lowly housemaid is suddenly the master of her universe.

More chillingly, de Bruijn is now given the power to commit those crimes for which her conscience has already been tarnished, and here lies the real tragedy. This contemporary hero, female and common-born, rebukes Shakespeare for giving her just one scene in the original play. “Just fifteen sentences,” wails de Bruijn. “That’s it!”

Her yearning for power and recognition is one that is immediately identifiable. But it seems that within Lady M reflects a deeper message, the frustration of a generation tired of being passive bystanders while the world happens to them.

Hair wild, knife in hand, de Bruijn a symbol of our wish to take control, rejecting the role of “bit part” and our desire to steal the stage.

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Aisha Josiah (August 21, 2012)

Fringe Guru ****

Don’t leave Edinburgh without experiencing the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at one of the greatest tragedies ever written.

At the risk of opening my first ever FringeGuru review with a bizarre innuendo: what is it with William Shakespeare’s bit parts? Have the accepted totems of Hamlet, Shylock, Othello et al really been so over-analysed that, to learn more about the plays they inhabit, we must look to the one-or-two-scene wonders in the supporting roles? Dutch theatre company Het Vijfde Bedrijf (The Fifth Act) seem to think so.

In Lady M, they’ve put on a thoughtful, often-funny, often-tense and sometimes-shocking production, initially reminiscent of a gender-swapped Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. But as the title suggests, Lady M is based on one of the Bard’s other great tragedies, Macbeth… and is also a much funnier, more intimate and more intense production than the Stoppard masterpiece.

Annemarie de Bruijn takes the only role in the production, as the “gentlewoman” who discusses Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking habits with the Queen of Scotland’s doctor. It’s clear merely from watching the show that this is a passion project for de Bruijn, and I personally can’t imagine the narrative being led by anyone else. She exudes personality from the moment the audience sets foot in the theatre (well, room is more accurate), talking with us and even directing us to the best seats in the house (room? I’ll stop now). It’s almost unfair to characterise her act as a performance, because it’s based so strongly around the reactions of the audience – especially during the first quarter of the production, concerning the gentlewoman’s humble beginnings as a scullery maid.

De Bruijn performs the character as if the gentlewoman is talking directly to the audience, the metaphorical fourth wall long since demolished. She awaits applause, constantly makes eye contact with whomever she can, and even explains her own jokes when they don’t get a loud enough laugh. It sometimes walks the tightrope between iconoclastically fresh and slightly insufferable, but de Bruijn’s sheer enthusiasm and spirit quickly pull things back from the brink.

However, this is a production that’s as visual as it is verbal, with heavy emphasis on de Bruijn’s undeniable talent for physical theatre alongside some masterful lighting and set design. A case in point is the sequence in which de Bruijn’s character overhears Macbeth and his infamous wife plotting to kill the visiting King of Scotland. Kneeling on a chest, she places her ear to its lid, as a single spotlight hits her from stage left. Over the top of this striking image, the dialogue from the scene is played; it’s brilliant, magnificently signposting the point where the stakes get higher and the tone gets a hell of a lot darker.

The only fault I can find is that it’s rather difficult to know what this play actually about. Perhaps it’s a comment on Shakespeare being overrated – an idea reflected in the final words of the show, which are way too good to be spoiled here. But I may be wrong; this feels like a production with too much passion, energy and drama to end on such an over-played note. Even with that final ambiguity, though, this is still a show to be recommended to the ends of the earth – profound, exciting, and as funny as anything Shakespeare-related you’re likely to find this Fringe. Don’t leave Edinburgh without experiencing the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at one of the greatest tragedies ever written.

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Will Howard

Fringe Review ****

Lady M is potentially a really fantastic piece of theatre, and Annemarie de Bruijn a star in the making on this year's fringe.

A brilliantly written piece, powerfully performed, let down by poor direction. History (or in this case Herstory) from below gives a voice to the dispossessed to offer an alternative version of some of Macbeth. Lady M is the maid in waiting who witnesses the dirty deeds that night of Duncan's bloody demise and exacts a different kind of vengeance.

Lady M is potentially a really fantastic piece of theatre, and Annemarie de Bruijn a star in the making on this year's fringe. She has written a wonderfully clever play which challenges Shakespeare' official version of Macbeth in ways which open up a very different history, a history from below. She has written one of the most challenging and invigorating plays about Shakespeare for many a long year. Reinventing and retelling the story of the murder of King Duncan, de Bruijn opens up historical discourse, giving voice to the bit players in history, crediting their narratives with a respect and authenticity at best ignored, at worst denied.

Lady M is not Lady Macbeth, but her maid in waiting who has witnessed the immediate aftermath of the slaying of Duncan. Originally cooped up with the chickens, and swilling out the pigs and the garbage, this maid is sent to make the bed for the visiting king to sleep in. The bed she makes up is perfect (she tells us so herself) and she is outraged and shocked to find it despoiled, the king slaughtered  like one of her chickens by a maddened Macbeth, dripping blood as she witnesses him leaving the bedroom. Lady Macbeth  buys the distraught maid's silence by promoting her to maid-in-waiting, a position the maid relishes in the politics of the household staff. But which does nothing to help her sleep at night. As the tensions and paranoia mount, it is the maid who then murders Lady Macbeth, giving the lie to Shakespeare' tale of suicide.

It is a very thoughtful and gripping drama, mixed and lightened by flashes of comedy in the style of the Bard himself. It's a very fine piece of theatre, cleverly and attentively staged. The lighting is suitably mean and moody, the costumes and costume changes beautifully crafted, the music modern. The set is as ever on the Fringe limited, but intensively and interestingly used and reused. It's a very physical piece of theatre, with de Bruijn giving a masterful performance of her own words. It's a great piece of theatre.

Where it is let down, and let down badly is by the poor delivery of Shakespeare's own words drawn from his play. It simply lacks the gravitas and weight which needs to be given to the original language, to the original script. And so the contrasts between Shakespeare's account of the murder of Duncan and that of the maid's provided by de Bruijn are lost in what becomes a rather one-dimensional performance however compellingly delivered. Shakespeare demands to be delivered well, not gabbled and snatched at as there is a tendency to do in this performance.

If de Bruijn can be given the direction the parts of her play which are Shakespeare's requires, and works hard on delivering them to better effect, then this will become one of the best pieces of drama about the Bard the fringe will have seen for a very long time.

De Bruijn is a major new talent at this year's festival. With support from a director who can bring out the best in her performance,  Lady M will become one of the most compelling bits of new theatre around.

And most importantly, will give voice to those previously consigned to bit parts in plays, and in history itself.

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Mike Fitzgerald (4th August 2012)

Gaytimes ****

An imaginative translation of the Scottish play that must be the best production C venues has ever hosted.

I’ll admit that on paper the set up of Lady M does sound a little hackneyed, the production a one woman retelling of the tragedy of Macbeth from the point of view of a bit part. Despite this Annemarie De Brujin’s electric performance has allowed for one my most enjoyed hours of theatre at the festival this year, the piece a refined and considered adaptation that sustains engagement and humour.

De Brujin’s energy remains constant, and from the off we are granted to a character whose telling of Shakespeare’s tragedy retains the essence of the orignal script and yet provides an insight both amusing and affecting. Breaking the fourth wall is always a risky theatrical decision however being aware of the appropriate moments to do so and remaining in control of her audience De Brujin is able to successfully manipulate the tempo of the piece, as well as reference the asides of Shakespeare’s original. What is also to be commended is the production’s manipulation of lighting and sound, the soundtrack especially in its employment of a discordant merging of old and new instruments and samples. The white washed set may be a little expected of a contemporary adaptation, but its effective operation by De Brujin softens this criticism.

An imaginative translation of the Scottish play that must be the best production C venues has ever hosted. Lady M’s run at the festival will have culminated by the time this is published, however after some dates in Netherlands I believe the production will be returning to the UK. Out, damned punter and buy a ticket I say.

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Henry Petrides

Informed Edinburgh *****

Only a Dutch company would take as its starting point the Shakespeare play whose name makes theatrical folk go all superstitious. And then, to turn it into a funny-but-tragic one-woman show is nothing if not daring.

However, in her corset, mini-crinoline and white bloomers, the actress is by turns the lady-in-waiting, Macbeth himself, Lady Macbeth, the doctor, the porter, and even the castle pigs to whom she is dragging out the swill barrels when the play opens – after we have been greeted with bagpipe music, naturally.

In an extraordinary demonstration of sheer technique, she narrates some sections, assumes various roles and delivers key speeches, analyses pieces of the action, and delivers a furious denunciation of Shakespeare for relegating a key member of the domestic staff to being a bit part player.

There are moments of genuine horror and dramatic tension as the events unfold, punctuated by mini-tantrums about other players having more lines. Some is acted, and some is delivered straight to audience, often at absolutely breakneck speed.

This play also contains a shocking revelation which is followed by a truly surprise ending. For audacity and inventiveness alone, this is a must-see; it does contain a PG warning for anyone considering bringing children.

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Fiona Allen

Stage Won ****

I don’t envy the sound operator for this piece, who manages to get every one of the many cues spot on.

When Tom Stoppard wrote Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in 1966, his intention was (partly) to give a voice to the oft-forgotten supporting roles. In Lady M, Annemarie de Brujin takes the concept a step further by structuring a piece about bit-parts in Shakespeare, specifically a maid in the Macbeth’s household.

But rather than simply show the narrative from another character’s perspective, de Brujin also alters it to demonstrate the ways in which she and “everyone else” like her have been shunned in literature. Another layer is also added by interaction with an audience, and along with some fantastic writing this puts Lady M at least on a par with Stoppard’s play.

De Brujin’s performance is a large factor in the success of this piece; her extreme energy is infectious and sweeps us along on this retelling of the Macbeth story. Her wide-eyes and perspiration demonstrate a true love of her show, and the passion which this maid feels is clear.

I don’t envy the sound operator for this piece, who manages to get every one of the many cues spot on. Some charming lighting and a simple white design (which becomes ever more effective at the end) draws out the strengths in de Brujin’s performance. It’s no mean feat getting the entire plot arc of Macbeth into an hour as it is. To do so and alter it whilst making a postmodern socio-political-feminist comment is what makes Lady M well worth a watch.

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Dan Hutton

The Skinny ****

A fun, though jarring production that nonetheless dares to delve deeper

If you have ever skipped to the footnotes, this one-woman show is for you. Dutch performer Anne Marie de Bruijn's sweetly bonkers persona lulls you in, before unravelling right in front of you. It's potent stuff. She poses the question: "Why did Shakespeare give the lady-in-waiting one scene only?"

A fun, though jarring production that nonetheless dares to delve deeper, asking about the wider implications of the lives of oft-underwritten characters, she makes you think twice about the function of characterisation as a means of propelling the narrative forward. Her irreverent style is peppered with that hideous ceildih-techno you often hear spilling out of tartan shops along the Royal Mile, yet it works, with a cogent, high-octane delivery from de Bruijn who is at once stand-up, storyteller and actor.

The tale of the social mobility of the under-classes should be clichéd, yet she makes swift work of that - as with ringing the necks of chickens. When her (unnamed) character does eventually rise up through the ranks to become the-lady-in-waiting, she is the first to discover King Duncan's body, coming to the swift realisation that she has swapped being up to her elbows in chicken shit for blood, examining the neuroses in the Royal Court, craving sleep or just peace of mind.

The bare bones set is off-set by a punk approach to the use of props - a sauce bottle squeezes out fake blood, or is it strawberry syrup? Confetti is gleefully thrown. It is often as though de Bruijn were at a child's birthday party - not an insomniac maid to the Lady. An erratic,nutty but triumphant piece of physical theatre which yet again gives vent to the feminist ideal of 'herstory.'

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Lorna Irvine (08 August 2012)

Three Weeks ***

Well acted and well-written with moments of brilliant comedy...

Fuck Shakespeare’ exclaims Annemarie de Bruijn in this one-woman adaption of the Shakespearean classic Macbeth.

Bemoaning her ‘bit-part’ in the original play, she tells the well-known tale from the point of view of Lady Macbeth’s handmaid. De Bruijn herself is no bit-part actress; indeed, she saves what could otherwise become just another adaption of an established classic, keeping her audience captivated as she moves seamlessly between characters, shining particularly in the role of the ever more demented Lady Macbeth. Focusing perhaps too much on the duties of the handmaid at the outset, the piece gathers momentum towards an enjoyable and visually striking conclusion. Well acted and well-written with moments of brilliant comedy, no previous knowledge of Shakespeare is required.

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Charlotte Ryan (C eca, 2-18 Aug, 4.15pm)

Paul Franssen