Sunday, April 16, 2023



Written By William Shakespeare

Directed by Peter Evans

Bell Shakespeare

Canberra Theatre Centre at the Playhouse to 22 April


Reviewed by Len Power 15 April 2023


One of the most well-known and often performed plays by William Shakespeare, ‘Macbeth’ has all the ingredients of a good horror movie.  Peter Evans’ new production offers plenty of chills as well with its clear concept, fine staging, technical expertise and good acting.

On a triangular acting area surrounded by looming curtains that give a sense of claustrophobia, this tragic story of greed, murder, guilt, self-delusion and finally insanity plays out to its thrilling conclusion.  We are left with a feeling of sadness that it was all for nothing.  The play is set in about 1920, a few years after the First World War, a deadly conflict, too, and for what?

Hazem Shammas gives a fine performance as Macbeth.  He is an ordinary man out of his depth and ill at ease with the politics he is caught up in.  Tempted by the prophecy of the three witches that he will become king, he commences his murderous journey, full of nagging self-doubt while displaying a confidence he does not feel.  It ends inevitably with his destruction.  Hammas clearly shows all the facets of this man in a nicely-judged performance.

Lady Macbeth (Jessica Tovey) and Macbeth (Hazem Shammas)

As Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth, Jessica Tovey appears to be a sensuous, capable, no-nonsense kind of woman who encourages and helps her husband with his murderous plans.  That she descends into insanity is a surprise, making us realize that the guilt about her husband’s actions and her part in them had bothered her more than we thought and it has tipped her over the edge.  Tovey’s performance has a depth that is very satisfying.

The Three Witches scenes are given a startling and haunting technical staging with a descending fog and clever lighting that is highly atmospheric.  The performances by Rebecca Attanasio, Eleni Cassimatis and Isabel Burton as the Witches are memorable.


The Three Witches (Rebecca Attanasio, Eleni Cassimatis and Isabel Burton)

There is good work from Julia Billington as Banquo, especially with her reappearance after the murder as a ghost.  Jacob Warner is a fine Macduff, touching in his scene when he learns of the deaths of his wife and daughter, and commanding in his final conflict with Macbeth.

James Lugton is a regal Duncan and also gives an amusing performance as the Porter.  The rest of the cast play multiple roles and, remaining onstage through most of the action, their stylised presence as onlookers works very well.

The sound design by Max Lyandvert is particularly excellent throughout the show and it is complemented by the fine lighting design by Damien Cooper.  Anna Tregloan’s set and costumes give this ‘Macbeth’ its unique look.

Peter Evans’ concept for this production makes a very clear statement about the inevitable result of political violence as well providing an enjoyable and at times thrilling entertainment.


Photos by Brett Boardman


Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at