Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron, bubble.
Whilst the actor’s dialogue remains traditional in Stuart Lumsden’s production of Macbeth, the royal robes and 11th century garb is replaced with leather, denim, tattoos, and witches donning Gothic attire. Lumsden’s Macbeth is the leader of a biker gang, most of whom have served time and are still itching for a fight.
Macbeth is blood-thirsty, shocking, drug and alcohol induced mayhem, which may offend some and beguile others. Some found it difficult to follow and I must admit that the programme added to the confusion of the story of Macbeth by giving characters criminal background stories and referring to the witches as travellers. This makes it tricky to follow when the dialogue addresses characters as Lord, Lady, Sir and refers to dwellings as castles and palaces, and Macbeth aspiring to become the King of Scotland.
Macbeth is a story of ambition and corruption fuelled by supernatural external forces that cast an evil cloud over Macbeth as he digs himself deeper into a hellish pit, murdering anyone who gets in his way. His conniving wife, Lady Macbeth, sets the evil plot rolling by goading Macbeth to kill the King of Scotland and claim the throne for himself. The result is an erosion of her conscience that results in insanity and her ultimate suicide, whilst Macbeth suffers from hallucinations of daggers and ghosts of those he’s murdered.
Standout performances were given by Tara Page, who plays Lady Macbeth, Stuart Lumsden who plays Macbeth and is also credited as director. Kate McNair, Tess Burke, and Sash Cuha give memorable performances as the maleficent witches who prophesise that Macbeth will one day become the King of Scotland, hence fuelling his ambitions. James Anderson plays the much admired legend, McDuff and Joel Beskin plays Porter. Each performance was impressive in its own right and makes the production well worth attending.
I heard a few audience members at interval mention that they didn’t understand what the actors were saying. Regardless of whether you are a fan of Shakespeare or not, and whether you struggle to understand the dialogue, Shakespeare’s plays are masterful storytelling at its best. Macbeth, in essence, exposes humanity’s flaws, and is an experience well worth investing in to watch the sheer tenacity of the characters pursuing their ambition at all costs. Macbeth is just as much a modern day story, although it has been thought to have been first performed in 1606. Macbeth will certainly remain in your memory, at least as a visual experience if you struggle with the dialogue.
There are some brutal scenes, depicting the supernatural, which were brilliantly executed using strobe lighting and a smoke machine. I found some scenes, presented as films clips, confusing as it threw me off balance just when I thought I had a grasp of what was going on. The soundtrack, created by Graham Simpson, is haunting and masterfully effective in enhancing the atmosphere.The set was well crafted by Michael Sutton and helped set the dark and ominous mood of the story.
If you enjoyed Baz Luhrmann’s, version of Romeo and Juliet, you’ll appreciate this rendition of Macbeth. The hardworking, dedicated, thespians were to be credited on captivating the audience with stellar performances they can be proud of. Expect the unexpected. You’ll either enjoy Macbeth, or not.
Review also published on: Weekend Notes – Macbeth – Gold Coast Lttle Theatre