By Narelle Wood
Fires burn and cauldron bubbles as Lady Macbeth and Macbeth cause political and murderous trouble. In Twelve Angry‘s latest production, the infamous Scottish play is retold in an intriguing and thought-provoking way.
Macbeth, full of deep and dark desires, with more than a little encouragement from his loving wife Lady Macbeth and the three weird sisters, sets his sights on ruling the land. Not prepared to leave his future status to fate, Macbeth takes matters into his own hands, and as is the case with any Shakespearean tragedy when the natural order is disrupted, the body count is high.
The usual emphasis, at least in the versions I have seen, is Macbeth’s slow decent into madness. But director Fiona Spitzkowsky takes a different tack, placing Lady Macbeth at the centre of Scottland’s chaotic state. The result is a refreshing interpretation of Macbeth that I had never considered but is by far the most beguiling I have ever seen. The weird sisters are reinvented with a ‘mean girls’-style friendship between Lady Macbeth, Lady Banquo and Lady Macduff. Macbeth seems a little more unhinged than usual and Lewis Macdonald plays Macduff with an aggressive side that has not been so evident in any of the other incarnations I’ve seen.
Ultimately what makes this reinvention work is the exceptional cast. Alice Marks is the strongest Lady Macbeth I’ve ever seen. It’s not overplayed; Marks is both sinister, sexual, mischievous and guilt-ridden all at the same time, even drinking from a goblet in a menacing manner. Marks is complimented by Victoria Mantynen and Anne Lumsden as Lady Banquo and Lady Macduff respectively, who both bring a complexity and depth to two minor characters who could otherwise be fairly easily dismissed. Charlie Craig’s Macbeth is easy to dislike; weak, aggressive and arrogant, in this version he is no longer the tragic hero corrupted by power. It is worth making the time to see these actors strut and fret their hours upon the stage.
There was not much that I didn’t like in this production. The main issue was outside ambient noise, which made the actors, especially during more quiet times, a little hard to hear. The soundtrack and singing that accompanied the play was both haunting and evocative, and the candlelight created an appropriate eerie feel. Impressively the candle on our table faded just as Macbeth finished his lamenting comparison between the brevity of life and the burning of a candle; I like to think this was intentional.
400 years after Shakespeare’s death it would seem impossible to give such a well-known classic tale a fresh retelling. This has instantly become my favourite interpretation of [Lady] Macbeth.
Venue: Tuxedo Cat, 293 Latrobe St, Melbourne
Season: 11-13th May, 7.30pm
Tickets: Full $25| Conc $15