Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Jordan Best
Canberra Rep, Theatre 3 to 20 August
Review by Len Power 5 August 2016
Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ is the shortest of his tragedies. In Jordan Best’s production for Canberra Rep, the show, normally played in five acts is performed in two acts with one interval.
The large cast displays some excellent performances but there are some uneven ones as well. As Macbeth, Chris Zuber is fine when displaying strength and anger but was less successful with the personally reflective moments early in the play.
As Lady Macbeth, Jenna Roberts is in total command of her character, clearly showing the ambition, the mental manipulation of her husband and, ultimately, the madness. Hers is a memorable performance.
There was excellent work from many of the other characters. Sam Hannan-Morrow gives an exuberant and regal performance as Duncan. Tony Falla is a convincingly earnest Banquo, Cameron Thomas is an excellent Macduff and Patrick Galen-Mules is a believable and strong Malcolm. Jim Adamik delights the audience with his small but comic relief role as the Porter.
Although well-cast physically, a number of the minor players seemed to lack energy and confidence in the delivery of their lines, especially in the second act.
The well-designed set by Michael Sparks, employs a scrim curtain which gives two major acting areas in the foreground and background. The director uses the spaces well, especially in the banquet scene and the scenes with the witches.
The atmospheric lighting design by Chris Ellyard is nicely done. The music, composed by Tim Hansen, adds a unique and effective dramatic touch but at times is a bit loud, obscuring actors’ voices. Costumes are by Heather Spong in a deliberate mixture of old and modern styles that work quite well for the most part, although the tunics worn by the soldiers were a bit tacky.
Maybe it’s an OH&S issue these days, but the decision to use wooden swords in the battle scenes took away any sense of danger. Wood striking against wood in a sword fight just makes it look and sound like young boys playing. The fight scenes needed choreographing and the killings, though bloody, were not convincing.
Jordan Best’s direction is at its best with the effective characters she has created with most of her cast. At times the production is quite powerful as well as entertaining.
Len Power’s reviews can also be heard on Artsound Fm 92.7 ‘Artcetera’ program on Saturdays from 9am.