The Australian Shakespeare Company production of Macbeth is well and efficiently presented within the beautiful environment of the edge of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Stunning huge trees including a magnificent pine serve as an excellent backdrop. When expertly lit they enhance the simple set - mostly comprising an offset castle structure that also serves as wings. All the action is smoothly presented on a simple open-air stage.
The evening moves swiftly and effectively, and the story is told with clarity, over approximately two and a half hours with a good long interval.
This is not a production for gleaning unexpected or enlightening insights into the motivation of the two main protagonists. But it is an excellent opportunity to watch and make sense of the play in a relaxed idyllic atmosphere.
Nathaniel Dean presents a strong and sometimes bemused boy-like Macbeth full of bluster and energy tumbling over his own words as they are uttered. His rendition of the soliloquy commencing ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow’ is very effective. Such a pity that on the evening I attended it was marred by the whole troupe of actors trouping along one of the observatory paths to reach their next position.
Alison Whyte, as anticipated, excels in her role. She brings us a ‘sharp as steal’ yet hauntingly vulnerable and feminine Lady Macbeth. For this casting alone Glenn Elston’s production is much more than just worth catching.
Costuming is generally great. The Witches in particular look fantastic.
As Macduff Kevin Hopkins shines, bringing a bold and forthright interpretation and helping the story and action to thrust onward. Dion Mills cuts a very regal Duncan. As gender blind casting Anna Burgess is impressive as Malcolm. Syd Brisbane as the Porter, most appropriately, milks this particular scene for humour with aplomb.
Always great to be able to catch a good rendition of ‘The Scottish Play’ – highly recommended. Do rug up though. Even a hot day in Melbourne can end in a ‘cool’ evening in the gardens.
Choreographer – Sue-Ellen Shook
Music – Paul Norton
Fight Choreographer – Nigel Poulton
Macbeth - Nathaniel Dean
Lady Macbeth – Alison Whyte
Mcduff – Kevin Hopkins
Elizabeth Brennan, Syd Brisbane, Anna Brugess, Kieran Clancy-Lowe, Madeleine Mason, Dion Mills, Adam T Perkins, Tony Rive, Annabelle Tudor, Laurence Young, Blake Aaron, Tessa Luminati and Claire Duncan.
Photographer: Nicole Cleary