Theatre Review: Foul Play’s Macbeth
The cast of Foul Play's MacBeth

Theatre Review: Foul Play’s Macbeth

This is a new rethinking of Shakespeare’s Macbeth to attempt to make us re-evaluate our gender prejudices.

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The cast of Foul Play's MacBeth
The cast of Foul Play’s MacBeth

Presented by Foul Play
Reviewed 23 January 2014

Beware anyone who does not have good understanding of the original text of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, or at least some knowledge of the plot. This production will confuse and vex you. Much of the original text is used but there the resemblance and connection to the Bard’s work ends. This is a new rethinking of the subject matter by director Yasmin Gurreeoo and the development team to attempt to make us re-evaluate our gender prejudices. I’m not sure it succeeded.

There are two adaptations of the play: a male and female version, and both were equally confusing (although by the second play I stopped expecting to follow the plot). Without reading the program notes or researching on the web my first impressions were that the producers had chosen an interesting venue to present this fairly raw piece, open, industrial and versatile. My initial thoughts were that this was set in a ward/ prison for the criminally insane, and then I decided that only “Macbeth” was insane and the other characters were figments of his imagination. Not sure if that is actually what was intended or not.

Whatever I think of the premise and evolution of this production there were undoubtedly some very good performances happening. Overall I preferred the male version (is that showing my gender preferences, I wonder?) I prefer to think that I was swayed by some very good snippets of acting. Jacqy Phillips did well as the lead for the females but the Australian accent made early lines hard to decipher and I found it hard to accept the character, whilst Patrick Frost, with his clear diction was believable and therefore seemed more troubled in the later sections. Stefani Ross was a great Banquo and crossed the gender line well, as did Chrissie Page as Duncan and the Doctor. That is not to say that David Hurst and Elliot Howard did not do a great job in the male version.

One standout for me was David Geddes as Lady Macbeth, a fine measured performance. Peter Cortissos was also extremely good as Lady Macduff. Although Laura Brenko and Romina Verdiglione were good in those roles, the males elicited more emotion. Macduff was played well by both Amy Victoria Brooks and Eddie Morrison. I am not sure I liked either of the sets of witches, but I often find that in trying to make them interesting and more “relevant” many interpretations just make these characters odd.

The lighting, making use of the industrial light in situ, was well planned by Ben Flett and the audio by Dan Thorpe was an interesting addition to the atmosphere.

I applaud the attempt to try something new but I am not sure it adds anything and I know it will get some Shakespeare purists up in arms. A different title may have helped, as it’s not really a rendition of Macbeth. Both plays are a bit of a marathon and are essentially the same, but it will certainly stimulate conversation.

Reviewed by Fran Edwards

Venue: Plant 1, 18 Park Tce, Bowden
Season: 25 Jan – 9 Feb 2014
Duration: 80mins x 2 with an interval
Tickets: $34.00 – $40.00 Double Bill $24 – $28 Single play
Bookings: Book online through TryBooking

 

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