Macbeth 2015

Review by Brian Godfrey Adelaide Theatre Guide

Nowadays, we tend to want to play around with, alter and/or modernise the plays of William Shakespeare. Not so Essential Theatre. With their ‘Shakespeare In The Vines’ programme they present the Bard’s works as they would have been performed around the inns and taverns of his time – stripped down to the essentials giving honest entertainment to the masses.

Essential Theatre’s “Macbeth” does just that – entertains its audience wonderfully and transports them back to a simpler (though perhaps bloodthirstier) time. Under Mark Wilson’s pacey, concise direction, the audience witness the blowing of trumpets, the banging of drums, the singing of songs and a tight, faithful retelling of this glorious masterpiece.

The cast of eight – Martin Blum, Amanda LaBonte, Sophie Lampel, Mia Landgren, Olivia Monticciolo, Tim Paige, Michael Wahr and Karlis Zaid – all give good performances and show their expertise when it comes to clarity, understanding and projection (extremely important outdoors) of every word of dialogue.

Zaid portrays both Duncan and Macduff well; Wahr gives an extremely strong performance as Banquo; whilst Paige is suitably naive, but never wimpy as Malcolm.

Lampel, Landgren and Monticciolo are good in their many roles, but play the witches (for once as witches!) brilliantly. Lampel also steals the show as the hilarious Porter.

As Lady Macbeth, LaBonte gives a good performance – especially in the ‘out, out, dammed spot’ scene, but concentrates more on the power and persuasion side of the character never really showing any love for Macbeth. As the doomed warrior, Blum is strong and well suited to the role. His reaction to his wife’s death and the following famous speech are superb. But his ‘Is this a Dagger...’ speech seems rushed.

This “Macbeth” is highly engrossing and immensely entertaining, with some nice comic touches and a very clever way of beheading someone out in the open in front of a crowd. Given the right weather conditions and winery, a great evening can be guaranteed with this production.

Kudos must also go to the owners and staff of Deviation Road Winery for their efficient and pleasant handling of the entire event. Their wines are very good as well (unpaid plug).