Wednesday, 12 March 2003

Macbeth, Company X , march 7, 2003

Macbeth  by William Shakespeare  Company X
Athenaeum II, March 12 to 23, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The Scottish Play, as Shakespeare's Macbeth is known, is not an easy play to stage. There are battle scenes, murders by the cartload and a forest that walks. Company X, under the direction of Simon Piening,  takes on the play with gusto and some success.

One asset of this production is that Piening edits it to two hours and keeps it moving swiftly. The play, if you do not know it, tells of Macbeth (Trent Baker ) who desires the crown. Compelled by his wife (Geraldine Quinn) he kills all and sundry to get and keep it.

Baker has some strength as Macbeth. He captures the usurper's thirst for power, his weakness and obsession. This is a role made famous by the best actors in the world and comparison is inevitable. Macbeth's journey from loyal subject to murdering traitor requires great skill to execute credibly under out contemporary gaze.

Similarly with Lady Macbeth,  Quinn's performance might suffer under scrutiny. She finds passion and the woman's harsh ambition but the character lacks layers. Tom Coulson as Macduff , has a strong vocal quality and finds genuine passion in Macduff's grief and passion for revenge.

The stage is simply designed but the noisy wooden floor is distracting at times. Tim Blundell's  lighting design is evocative and murky. Sound design by Chris Milne  is effective at times.

There are some problems with double casting women as soldiers, boys, murderers and witches. The male doubled roles need some clearer differentiation. Some of the fight scenes are poorly choreographed and guns do not work in this context particularly when they put aside for a fist fight.

Playing witches believably in the 21st century is difficult. The trio  (Quinn, Janine Wilson,  Georgina Durham ) has some impact but their scenes lack real potency and spookiness.

This company is worth watching. It is newly formed and ambitious - like Macbeth.

By Kate Herbert

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