Left – Dan Spielman and Lizzie Schebesta. Cover – Dan Spielman and Kate Mulvany. Photos – Rush.
Many students would have had to sit through Roman Polanski's retelling of The Bard's Scottish Play, studying furiously to discover the motives behind the man, his wife and all that led to his downfall. Macbeth, the tale of an ambitious General driven to regicide in order to gain the King's title is one of the most famous and most violent of all of Shakespeare's 37 plays.
Having been re-told numerous times on stage, film and television, Macbeth is a difficult feat to pull off and audiences are always looking for something new in the Scottish King's tale of betrayal and ruin while remaining faithful to the original text.
I am pleased to note that Bell Shakespeare's current production of Macbeth fills every criteria set by its discerning audiences with great aplomb. Creating the eerie atmosphere of the Scottish Heath with clever lighting and naturalized sets, audiences are immediately transported to another time and place, effectively rendering them helpless to Macbeth's triumphs and trauma.
Played by Australia's sweetheart of the theatre, Dan Spielman (The Hunter, One Perfect Day) is a strong and noble Macbeth falling prey to his own desire and ambition. Spielman is at his best during his descent into madness, his belief in his own immortality so strong he (literally) can't see the wood for the trees.
However it is his wife, the beautiful and deadly Lady Macbeth that is the star of the show. Kate Mulvany (The Seed, King Lear, The Crucible) is every inch the troubled Queen, bringing elegance and old-Hollywood glamour to the role so often quoted. Mulvany brings Lady Macbeth off her pedestal and makes her more accessible to an audience. Both violently ambitious and terrifyingly manipulative, her grief, madness and subsequent descent are lightened by the touches of humor Mulvany conveys in the darkest of moments.
Lizzie Schebesta is the ever-present witch, weaving her magic and manipulating Macbeth into instigating his own downfall. Looking more like a fairy princess than one of Shakespeare's hags, Schebesta breathes new life into sometimes stale interpretations. Moving with the grace of a prima ballerina and the stealth of a black widow spider, Schebesta is at once both a pale and frightened child and an all commanding dark force.
Synchronized seamlessly with Kelly Ryall's haunting score, time passes with the chime of a bell and moods are set by the strings that punctuate the story from behind the scenes.
Directed by Peter Evans, Bell Shakespeare's Macbeth is an enticing journey into the nightmares of the mind and the terrible consequences of getting everything you ever wished for.
Bell Shakespeare presents
by William Shakespeare
Venue: Melbourne Arts Centre 100 St Kilda Rd, 3000
Dates: 7 – 19 June, 2012
Tickets: from $33
Bookings: 1300 182 183