By Andrew MacNiven
Alongside ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Macbeth’ ranks among the best known and most performed of William Shakespeare’s plays. Attempting to adapt such a fundamental part of the theatrical canon to a modern setting is no small task, but this is the elephantine undertaking for director Stephen Lee, producer Angelique Malcolm and their talented cast and crew.
In this Class Act Theatre production, the setting has been shifted from the cloddy moors and grim castles of medieval Scotland to the present day. Macbeth (Nick Maclaine) is no longer a soldier who covets the kingship, but rather a businessman seeking to climb the corporate ladder at Scotland Inc.
The introduction of elements familiar to contemporary audiences, such as smart phones and social media, are an interesting, if potentially risky, means of introducing ‘Macbeth’ to younger audiences. While something of the ambience of the original might be lost by this intrusion of the modern, Shakespeare’s original, unparalleled dialogue retains its power.
Rhoda Lopez continues her record of fine performances in 2013 (following her portrayal of French songstress Edith Piaf in ‘Madame Piaf’) with that of the conniving Lady Macbeth, which she does with nuance and skill. Nick Maclaine is excellent as the conflicted Macbeth, who submits to the baser part of his nature with ever more cataclysmic consequences.
The studio at the Subiaco Arts Centre is an intimate venue, with patrons very close to the action, even to the point of several unexpected instances of audience interaction. Special mention must be made of the makeup and special effects supplied by Cadence Tait, which superbly bring to life the horrors and apparitions witnessed by Macbeth as he spirals into madness.
This iteration of ‘Macbeth’ remains faithful to the original text while injecting an intriguing twist of the new. Strip back the suggestions of witchcraft and the arcane, and ‘Macbeth’ remains a fundamentally human tale of simple envy and avarice.