Bell Shakespeare's Macbeth
7 - 23 June 2012, Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre, Melbourne.
Starring: Kate Mulvany, Dan Spielman, Ivan Donato, Katie-Jean Harding, Gareth Reeves, Lizzie Schebesta.
Directed by Peter Evans
Written by William Shakespeare
"Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and caldron bubble."
Bell Shakespeare brings Macbeth, the much-loved and infamous play to the Art Centre Melbourne this winter.
Macbeth, known to many as "the unmentionable Scottish play" has finally been performed by the talented cast and crew of Bell Shakespeare. Set in Scotland, Macbeth (Speilman) is given a prophecy by three witches. It's a prophecy that comes to consume his every thought and action. Does he want to be King badly enough to kill? Well, Lady Macbeth (Mulvany) certainly has the answer to that.
In a stylised two-and-a-half-hour performance, audience members are captivated and held on the edge of their seats by the dinner banquets and long choreographed swordfights as madness takes over Macbeth and evil prevails. While Macbeth has always been a play that teaches about fate, it also shows how someone can become obsessed with power.
Leading actors Mulvany and Spielman are the backbone of the performance as Macbeth's power couple. There is no other way to describe Mulvany's performance other than "sex bomb"! Her portrayal of the alluring Lady Macbeth leaves jaws hanging and eyes staring. Lady M is well known as the most sophisticated, majestic, yet malevolent of all Shakespearean female roles and Mulvany certainly fulfils that expectation.
In a little twist of her own, Mulvany has chosen to focus Lady M's motivation on the fact that she was grieving for the loss of a baby - an aspect of her character that is rarely emphasised in traditional performances.
In an interesting directorial choice the three wicked witches of Macbeth have been transformed into one. Sort of. The beautiful Lizzie Schebesta plays all three with sound effects and costuming used to create the three different parts of her character. While the witches do appear many times throughout the play, her purpose seems a little lost. There is an awkward stage presence about her. Her movements, with exaggerated twists, turns and gasps, were lost on the audience, who seemed to struggle with the basic concept of three in one.
Bell Shakespeare is Australia's only national theatre company. Their national tour of Macbeth is finishing with a season at the Melbourne Arts Centre. The wide stage of the Playhouse Theatre provides a perfect backdrop for the elaborate yet simplistic setting. Built by Show Works, the set was incredible, consisting of a large square of shrubbery. This choice was intriguing, as it deviates from the play's traditional castle setting. The square grass platform angled upwards at the back where it met an opaque black reflective surface that acted as a mirror in which the performers could see their true selves.
Bell's Macbeth may have its smoke and mirrors, but ultimately it is Shakespeare in the most stylistic and effective form.
4 out of 5
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Articles Written by Amber
Reviews written by Amber
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