Tag: Fiona Spitzkowsky

Twelve Angry Presents [LADY] MACBETH


By Narelle Wood

Fires burn and cauldron bubbles as Lady Macbeth and Macbeth cause political and murderous trouble. In Twelve Angry‘s latest production, the infamous Scottish play is retold in an intriguing and thought-provoking way.

[Lady] Macbeth.jpg

Macbeth, full of deep and dark desires, with more than a little encouragement from his loving wife Lady Macbeth and the three weird sisters, sets his sights on ruling the land. Not prepared to leave his future status to fate, Macbeth takes matters into his own hands, and as is the case with any Shakespearean tragedy when the natural order is disrupted, the body count is high.

The usual emphasis, at least in the versions I have seen, is Macbeth’s slow decent into madness. But director Fiona Spitzkowsky takes a different tack, placing Lady Macbeth at the centre of Scottland’s chaotic state. The result is a refreshing interpretation of Macbeth that I had never considered but is by far the most beguiling I have ever seen. The weird sisters are reinvented with a ‘mean girls’-style friendship between Lady Macbeth, Lady Banquo and Lady Macduff. Macbeth seems a little more unhinged than usual and Lewis Macdonald plays Macduff with an aggressive side that has not been so evident in any of the other incarnations I’ve seen.

Ultimately what makes this reinvention work is the exceptional cast. Alice Marks is the strongest Lady Macbeth I’ve ever seen. It’s not overplayed; Marks is both sinister, sexual, mischievous and guilt-ridden all at the same time, even drinking from a goblet in a menacing manner. Marks is complimented by Victoria Mantynen and Anne Lumsden as Lady Banquo and Lady Macduff respectively, who both bring a complexity and depth to two minor characters who could otherwise be fairly easily dismissed. Charlie Craig’s Macbeth is easy to dislike; weak, aggressive and arrogant, in this version he is no longer the tragic hero corrupted by power. It is worth making the time to see these actors strut and fret their hours upon the stage.

There was not much that I didn’t like in this production. The main issue was outside ambient noise, which made the actors, especially during more quiet times, a little hard to hear. The soundtrack and singing that accompanied the play was both haunting and evocative, and the candlelight created an appropriate eerie feel. Impressively the candle on our table faded just as Macbeth finished his lamenting comparison between the brevity of life and the burning of a candle; I like to think this was intentional.

400 years after Shakespeare’s death it would seem impossible to give such a well-known classic tale a fresh retelling. This has instantly become my favourite interpretation of [Lady] Macbeth.

Venue: Tuxedo Cat, 293 Latrobe St, Melbourne
Season: 11-13th May, 7.30pm
Tickets: Full $25| Conc $15
Bookings: twelveangry.tumblr.com

REVIEW: Melbourne University Shakespeare Company Presents THE TAMING OF THE SHREW

Ambitious production has deliberate sting

By Caitlin McGrane

For my money, The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare’s most challenging plays for modern audiences; it is difficult to reconcile what is essentially the story of a strong women being abused and subjugated into an emotional wreck with modern politics and female emancipation. Melbourne University’s Shakespeare Company’s production of the play is an ambitious undertaking that seeks to draw out the darkness beneath the humour that so often goes unnoticed and shine a bright and unflinching spotlight on domestic violence.

The Taming of the Shrew

The story is that five suitors compete for the love of the two Minola sisters; one, Bianca (Bridie Pamment) is a mild-mannered ingénue, and the other Katerina (Amelia Burke) is ‘shrewish’ and tempestuous. Their mother has decreed that Bianca may only marry when Katerina is wed, which may prove a difficult task because she likes to shout at men and doesn’t consider any of them interesting enough to bother with (Katerina and I have this pastime in common).

The whole cast did an excellent job with a difficult text and an even more challenging brief. Shakespearean text is thorny, because each performer needs to be on the same page, feeding off other cast members, while delivering their own lines with vim and vigour. There were moments during the performance where the performers fell slightly short of this – acting well as individuals, but not quite forming a cohesive whole. Katerina and Petruchio (Lewis McDonald) worked well together, and I particularly enjoyed McDonald’s Australiana-inflected interpretation of the male protagonist.

While the production was well directed by Fiona Spitzkowsky and Declan Mulcahy, I found the play overlong and tonally uneven in places when Katerina’s abuse became almost unbearable to watch. Certainly this kind of frankness can be a useful device, but in my mind modern audiences have seen abuse on stage and screen enough times to know what it looks like. It would moreover have been good to focus on one thing happening on stage at a time; sometimes it felt like Lucientio (Oscar Shaw) was in a play of his own creation. The minimalist set was well designed by Gabrielle Lewis, and the lighting (Jaiden Leeworthy) was used to great effect. Costume designer Bec Poynton also did a terrific job injecting modernity into the outfits referenced in the script.

I enjoyed the play more thinking about it after I left the theatre, when I could appreciate its creative ambitions. It will certainly be interesting to see what else the cast and crew go on to do.

The Taming of the Shrew is showing at the Guild Theatre in Union House at the University of Melbourne until 24 October. Tickets: http://goo.gl/kUGjLZ