Review-Macbeth-Sweet & Sour Productions

  17-4-15

 

By: Nikel Mordis

 

The show starts as we enter a dim lit room. Who else is there to fill its presence but the three sinister Weird Sisters? Eerily lurking in their corners and conjuring the mists to rise around them. The set tells all: a solemn crown rests upon a Scottish flag in the midst of a floor marked with the signs of war – and above all this hangs a menacing and tattered blanket of ruin.

 

There is so much attention to detail in this production and this is clear from the get-go as even all three witches are distinguished in respect to the text. The first plays the grotesque seductress with a kiss of spit (Jacqueline Gourlay Grant), the second plays a childlike witch with morbid wonder (Vicki Rummun), and the third a portrayal of pure hatred incarnate (Hamish Campbell); these are the malicious elements of fate, it seems, that recurrently play upon the cursed eponymous antihero.

 

On the surface, Macbeth is a play about an ambitious man whose unchecked usurping of a kingdom winds him down the tunnels of enveloping guilt, madness and ultimate death. On a deeper level, the play puts into question whether our fates are our own to determine or whether they are tied to supernatural forces. I believe Candice Moore’s production demonstrates this point clearly.

 

There is no excess of anything in this adaptation as all actions onstage respect in full force the ominous text; any non-canon elements only do justice to Shakespeare’s text and engross the viewer even more, if that’s possible. There is no intermission; this production is very tightly packed. No time is lost between transitions and definitely not a second lost in line delivery – it is common for a Shakespearean actor to give into self-indulgence and sip lines between every sonorous pause. But this production, as aforementioned, sees not a single unnecessarily wasted beat.

 

Nick Atkinson, our lead, in this tragedy familiarised himself with both the poetic meter of his lines as well as the emotional investment that such a demanding role requires. Indeed, he gives himself flawlessly to the story from the very top of his entrance down to the very final gasp of his demise. To begin with, Atkinson’s portrayal of unkempt ambition is so clear right from the start as he overhears the witches’ accursed prophecies. In this production, it is clear that Macbeth’s lust for power is innate and though his wife plays an essential role in this release of malicious intent, it is nonetheless still Macbeth’s own visions that are most responsible for his own arch. Thus, Atkinson’s portrayal of the descent into madness was all the more riveting, charismatic and satisfying even. His craze spirals unto nihilism when he delivers his final monologue – a breath-taking soliloquy on the state of nothingness that his folly has ultimately led to, and a beautiful moment of madness in madness.

 

I have nothing but admiration and applause for Muriel Hofmann’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth. With a natural stage presence, Hofmann’s physique tastes so maliciously delicious with that of Atkinson’s own. Once more, I salute the attention to detail given in this production: I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who noticed that the red-clad Hofmann’s snakelike strides around the stage seemed to entice, seduce and ultimately persuade Atkinson’s Macbeth to follow through with his devious plans. She’s a master of the movement, meter and emotion and this is only exemplified during her final soliloquy in which she releases both mania and her guilt-ridden depression.

 

Of the other five performers, all deserve stellar recognition for their accomplishments. Banquo (Jai Day) fills the void of insanity by using the voice of reason and his ultimate death at the hands of Macbeth is one the audience will pity due to the actor’s full commitment to the role – indeed, Day even portrays Banquo’s own ambition, leading to a more holistic realisation of the character. Henry Coombs (who plays King Duncan / Macduff / Murderer) is a prime example of how multitalented this cast is: all the characters he plays are so distinct in voice and physique and his ability to dissociate so fluently between characters is spectacular to behold. The three who play the Weird Sisters also grasp other roles. Hamish Campbell portrays the grief-struck Malcolm superbly and claims his own hero’s quest to avenge the usurped Duncan. In addition, Campbell’s scene with Coombs displays moving camaraderie and provides an uplifting section to this morbid play. A highlight of Vicki Rummun’s performance is her portrayal of Lady Macduff: the horrific scene of her murder is key in the play’s acknowledgment that the lust for power is a hell-bent and never ending passion. Jacqueline Gourlay Grant, on the other hand, brought some much-needed comic relief as the Porter and her delivery was metaphysically on par, I found.

 

This show was so mesmerising that I felt a little anxious for the climactic duel between Macbeth and Macduff – I was scared the choreography might be lacking. But it wasn’t in the slightest. I was on the edge of my seat all throughout the gruelling conflict and the word “epic” comes to mind, I must say. I tried too hard to think of a flaw in this production and could not beyond the nit picky and minute... 

 

And what a surprise at the end: paying homage to Roman Polanski, this production opens as it closes with the Weird Sisters’ decadent tunes wishing us all a very good night indeed.

 

Buy a ticket. Take a piss before you watch the show. Grab some sleeping pills after.

Macbeth is playing at the Fringe Club through April 26th. For more information, click here.

 

 


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review, macbeth, hongkong

Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 5.0


Comments

  • N Jaeger
    23 April 2015

    I saw this production last night and was just blown away. Excellent direction and acting. Completely agree with the reviewer. Best play I've seen in Hong Kong for ages.

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