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PN Review 276
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This report is taken from PN Review 272, Volume 49 Number 6, July - August 2023.

Touch and Mourning
6: Like a Tree in the Forest
Anthony Vahni Capildeo
That time in Trinidad when we distilled Macbeth into a series of looped, interactive scenes, the play began as soon as you came up the driveway. Someone at a little outdoor table would offer you a stainless-steel bowl to wash your hands in. It had blood-coloured flowers floating in it – the same kind of bowl, in fact it was the same bowl, where raw chicken might be washed with vinegar to remove clots from butchery, and to lighten the meat smell described in Trinidad English as ‘fresh’. You would be invited to partake of ‘perfumes of Araby’, offering you a spritz of some imported cologne. Whatever your gender, whatever your guiltlessness, this introduction makes you complicit. It places you in the role of Lady Macbeth, reimagined as a collective identity, as more people arrive and undergo the ritual welcome.

You enter the play sleepwalking, as a murderess tormented by having the blood of a king on her hands. Mourning and guilt, gilt, gilding, the hands shiny with aromatic oils or bodily fluids, the hands as pages of a state chronicle bound with gold foil, are twinned as fingers scrub and palm wrings out. In the living room, the host does not welcome you. The host is reading aloud the entire play text, softly, continuously, as if they had been ‘put so’ or ‘bewitched’ – as if having command of the text were the same as being compelled and zombified – as if the only time we have is the time inside the play. A pine branch hangs suspended ...


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