|Hazem Shammas (Macbeth) - Jessica Tovey (Lady Macbeth)
Peter Evans – Associate Director: Abbie-lee Lewis.
Costume Design: Anna Tregloan – Lighting Design: Damien Cooper
Design: Max Lyandvert – Movement, Fight, Intimacy Director: Nigel Poulton
Theatre Centre Playhouse 15th – 22nd April 2023.
Night Performance on 15th April reviewed by BILL STEPHENS
night performance of Bell Shakespeare’s latest production of “Macbeth” was
greeted with a standing ovation by some members of the audience. Others were
left wondering what it was that had excited them, and why they too couldn’t
share their enthusiasm.
Peter Evans in what has now become the Bell Shakespeare house style, this production
is not only beautiful to look at, but also assumes, not unreasonably, that the
audience is familiar with the play.
Tregloan has provided a luscious setting of forest-green velvet drapery, artfully
arranged so that the actors can enter and exit the stage quickly and almost invisibly. Elegant chairs, side-tables and lamps provide a decidedly 1920’s
look, supported by glamorous twenties costumes for the ladies and tuxedos and
suits for the men.
Of course there
are the ubiquitous Bell Shakespeare great- coats, worn by both the women and
men. These great-coats have obviously been pulled from stock wardrobe, don’t
represent any particular period, and because they are mismatched and
ill-fitting, work against the otherwise fastidious design.
|The cast of Bell Shakespeare's "Macbeth".
play is performed within the single setting, often with most of cast on stage observing
the action. Throughout, there are only minimal costume changes and no
indication of where, when and why the action is taking place.
it’s often near-impossible to follow the story or work out which character the
actor is portraying, or even the significance of that character to the story. The
result is that the production simply becomes a series of set-pieces, where the
actors step forward, deliver their lines, and then fade back into the
Nor is it
made any clearer by gender-blind casting, or by casting actors so distinctive
in one role that when they re-appear as another, it’s not clear if they’re the same
character in a different costume, or a different character altogether.
In this production all the characters are played by 10 actors. With the exception of Hazem Shammas (Macbeth), Jessica Tovey (Lady Macbeth) and Jacob Warner (Macduff), Rebecca Attanasio, Julia Billington, Isabel Burton, Jeremi Campese, Eleni Cassimatis, James Lugton, Kyle Morrison, all play two or three characters each, with varying degrees of success, mainly due to the reasons outlined above.
|Hazzam Shammas as Macbeth in Bell Shakespeare's production of "Macbeth"
Hazem Shammas offers an idiosyncratic and over-wrought interpretation of the
role, in which athleticism often overshadows the beauty of the language. Elegant
and fierce as Lady Macbeth, Jessica Tovey imbues her interpretation with an unsettling
sexuality which keeps the audience guessing as to her motives.
|The Cast of Bell Shakespeare's "Macbeth".
lighting and sound effects, particularly for the three witches in the opening
scenes, and a dangerous looking fight with bayonets later in the play, provide memorable moments, but this is a production likely to appeal more to educated Shakespearean
enthusiasts rather than to those perhaps seeking to share in their enthusiasm.
Images by Brett Boardman
This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au