BWW Review: MACBETH's Tragic Tale of Ambition Hauntingly Staged at Theatre on the Bay
Dark costuming, pervading background bass and smoke in the air, the ominous presentation of MACBETH at Theatre on the Bay matches its subject matter expertly. Abrahamse and Meyer have brought forth a hauntingly engaging tragedy whose main character's mad quest for kingship is paralleled in the flow of this production.
Marcel Meyer in the title role of Macbeth is a seasoned Shakespearian actor. This is clearly shown in his deep understanding of his character and ability to make the most complicated soliloquies in the play digestible. He has superb projection and vocal techniques that dissolve you in the Bard's writing. Meyer is also to thank for MACBETH's costume design which forms an integral part of the fantastic creative team.
Sparking with fatalistic feminine energy opposite Meyer is David Viviers as Lady Macbeth. Viviers not only has a wonderful chemistry with his own character, but him and Meyer sail smoothly past each other as a conniving, untouchable couple. Supporting actors Tailyn Ramsamy and Stephen Jubber are also worth a mention, although both were a bit stiff at times in their respective characters. Jubber was memorable as a masked Duncan; whereas his movements as MacDuff tend towards the rigid.
Overall, however, the 6 person cast works well as a unit and have a knack for supporting strengths and filling in for weaknesses. Director Fred Abrahamse is in part to thank for this. He's created a cohesive production that is both shocking and tragic; mysterious and comical that wholly transports one through the 5 acts. With that being said, there is a slight nonplus towards the end of the production where a climax in slow motion and unintentionally humorous prop choice snap one out of what has been the mystique of MACBETH for a second. Furthermore, there is a strange choice of sporadic Scottish accents throughout that make one wonder if there was significance to this or simply a lack of accentual ability.
Despite these minuscule setbacks, the creative team has put on a unique and memorable production. The ambience is set from the moment you enter the theatre; combined with atmospheric set and lighting design and compositions from Charl-Johan Lingenfelder. The enveloping feel of MACBETH is skillfully unnerving and resolutely captivating.
What stood out for me personally about this show is that is upholds this aura of modernity while also playing homage to English Renaissance theatre. The all-male cast, entrances and exits via the back of the stage rather than the wings, and the straightforward addressing of the audience ring true to classic conventions. Combined with an invigorating take on dialogue, subtle directorial intricacies and a memorable use of puppetry, there are contemporaneous elements throughout.
This Abrahamse and Meyer's production may not necessarily be groundbreaking in terms of Shakespeare productions; and this is exactly why it should be seen. MACBETH stands as a respectful rendition of a classic, while also bursting forth with theatrical ingenuity.
Photo credit: Jesse Kramer
MACBETH will be performed at Theatre on the Bay until 1 June at 8pm nightly. Ticket prices range from R100 to R240 and can be booked via Computicket or (021) 438-3300.