Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Macbeth" - March 2008

Back at the Citz student season once again - this time with Reid Kerr College's "Macbeth" in the Circle Studio. This was a fairly late addition to our schedule as Shakespeare in the hands of students concerned me, but then we were made aware of the involvement of Melissa Deans who had seriously impressed us in a previous production. So we made space in our schedule to attend - well I did - Waldorf missed out as I got the last ticket for the show.

Although, as it turned out there was plenty of room in the small Circle Studio as it appears one of the school parties who had booked later cancelled. As a result it was only two-thirds full which was a shame as although the cast got a good response from the audience, they deserved even better. The performance opened with the three witches moving to the stage from their seats among the audience. Wildly dressed in black and red with feathered hands they didn't look entirely out of place amongst the school party who did attend - okay, maybe not the feathered hands bit. Rebekah Aitken, Heather Roberts and Rebecca Johnson made for fantastic witches and made their scenes some of the highlights of the evening.

The ensemble cast all did well, although there was a tendency at times by some to rush through lines rather than deliver them meaningfully. It's understandable given the unfamiliarity of the speech but it makes it equally problematic for an audience trying to grasp meanings. But for the most part the delivery was perfectly acceptable and all shaped their performances to suit the performance space. Iain Bernacchi's MacDuff and Alan Stirling's Duncan were particularly good at delivering their lines with depth and meaning, while Euan Rider's porter provided marvelous comic relief.

But any production of "Macbeth" will stand or fall on the strength of it's two leads and Stephen Bisland as Macbeth and Melissa Deans as Lady Macbeth more than measure up. Bisland gave a towering performance and commanded the 'stage' with great presence. His moments when tortured by Banquo's ghost were stunningly portrayed. While Melissa Deans linguistic delivery was perfectly pitched, that wasn't what made her performance a bit special - its strength came from being a beautifully subtle performance. Able to convey emotion with the slightest movement or look, her unspoken reaction to being dismissed by Macbeth was incredibly powerful. Bisland would not have been out of place in a major role in either of the productions of Shakespeare we've seen in the last year ("Othello" at London's Donmar Warehouse and the Citz' own "Hamlet") and Dean's performance was head and shoulders above the female leads in either of those.

Special mentions for an impressive sword-fight between Bisland and Bernacchi (choreographed by Peter Pringle) - incredibly brave in such a confined space, and also for some fantastic costumes that would have done many professional main stage productions proud. All in all a hugely enjoyable evening, which is really quite impressive for such a dark and demanding play.

"Macbeth" runs at the Citizens until Saturday 15th March (inc Thursday matinee) and operates a rotating cast for some roles.

4 Heckles

Anonymous said...

I saw the play and personally found that Stephen Bislands portrayal was very over the top & very ham & made it very difficult for me to believe that he was in the moment or even in the same play as the rest of the cast. I do agree though they all held there own & were also very ensemble minded with exception to the latter pupil I have already commented on. I will be a regular attented at more of this colleges performances as I found them to be of a very high proffesional standard & they I'm sure will all be recieving calls from agents wanting to snap them up.

Statler said...

Sorry Anonymous - i couldn't disagree more. I thought Stephen Bisland's performance was natural, controlled and measured - never anything approaching 'over the top'. I thought the whole cast were very good at setting an even tone for their performances - with no one stepping out of line with a grab for the limelight.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hi I just noticed the web page. Macbeth did not over act but he didnt underact aswell. lady macduff was good aswell as fleonce and banquo.

x D