Venue: Little Theatre, University of Adelaide
Season: 7:30pm Tues to Sat until 20th Aug
Duration: 3hrs 15min incl interval
Tickets: adult $25/conc $20/under 30s $29/and for groups 10+ contact 8303 599
Bookings: Direct from the Guild 8303 5999, BASS 131 241 or http://www.bass.net.au
Shakespeare's 'Scottish tragedy' is the latest production for the Guild, with Michael Eustice directing Brant Eustice in the title role and with Amanda Shillabeer as Lady Macbeth. That is a very strong start to a team intending to stage a performance of a Shakespearian piece, with a wealth of experience between them in presenting the Bard's works. With such a foundation on which to build it came as no surprise to find that this turned out to be an excellent production in all respects.
Michael Eustice has assembled a fine cast for this production, starting at the top with Brant Eustice, who gives us a very finely crafted portrayal of the famous perpetrator of regicide, an act inspired by the predictions of supernatural beings and driven to fruition by the urgings of his ambitious wife. Eustice invests his character with an intensity that shows a thorough understanding of Macbeth, the man, and there is no shortage of subtext in his performance.
Shillabeer is an ideal complement to Eustice, her Lady Macbeth equally as complex and fully developed. Her progression from the strongly determined woman behind the man, into madness and suicide is deftly handled and very believable. Michael Eustice has directed their scenes together to show more of the personal depth to their relationship than merely the expected machinations, their performances showing the strong bond between them as man and wife as well as their relationship as plotters.
Michael Kumnik is Banquo, who begins as Macbeth's friend, then falls foul of his treachery when he dwells on the prophecy of the witches that, although Banquo will not be king, he will father kings. Kumnik does a fine job of conveying Banquo's loyalty, even as he becomes aware as the play progresses that Macbeth has changed, refusing to accept until too late that Macbeth has turned traitor.
Eddy Knight's King Duncan is clearly a man who is confident in his position as monarch. Knight commands the stage, just as Duncan commands his realm, strutting with majesty among his subjects, dispnsing death and rewards with equal ease. Knight is ideal in this role.
Simon Davey's Macduff is another fine piece of work. When he hears of the slaughter of his family, he visibly crumbles from the shock and his anger at this ignoble act rings very true. Although a brief scene, Emily Branford stops the show, getting every laugh you can imagine as the drunken Porter.
There is so much superb work from the cast of this production, even in minor roles, but there are too many to individually acknowledge everybody, even though they deserve it.
Michael Kumnik's set design is stunning, almost a work of art in itself, with a tree to one side, varying between two and three dimensional representations, becoming more and more delicate as it stretches to the top of the set. He has provided an arch, a heavy set of stairs, other set decoration and plenty of performance space, which Michael Eustice has used to good advantage, using all of the possibilities in the venue for entries, exits, and performance areas, establishing many different locations. Alexander Ramsay makes full use of every bit of the lighting equipment available to him to create a wide range of atmospheric moods and Sean Ormsby's sound design is a complex mix of natural sounds and effects to further establish various moods. An often badly treated aspect of any live performance is violence, but the numerous fight scenes, directed by Michael Fuller, were notable for their realism. The final encounter between Macbeth and Macduff was so realistic that it drew a few intakes of breath and other involuntary sounds from the audience.
Make sure you go to see this riveting production, but don't take too long organising your tickets because word will spread quickly.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.