Devised by Fiona Roake, Christain Bagin, John Forman, Vanessa Chapple and Aurora Kurth. Arts Centre Melbourne / Company 13. Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne. 19 – 21 January 2017

With heaps of age appropriate fart jokes, Macdeth, is an excellent, often very funny, physical theatre romp in a Theatre in Education style.   It is a Drama/English teacher’s ‘God send’ - a wonderful show to introduce young people to Shakespeare’s revered play Macbeth. 

It is the perfect ticket for children of eight and older to start their journey of getting to know this classics.   The Arts Centre have perfectly programmed it for this week, just as we are getting to the end of the holidays and kids are starting to get bored and needing something challenging to think about.

The actors/devisors work as a stunningly ‘well oiled’ ensemble using percussion to underscore and create atmosphere.  They are fabulously versatile, have great physical skills and work pretty much in a ‘gender blind’ way.

Macdeth opens with King Duncan entering with an entourage and addressing the audience using a comic vocal echo that he milks to the hilt. 

Most of the story is told in the comfortable 70 minutes.  Of course it is heavily abbreviated but several of the most notable monologues are pretty much there or partially there; like Macbeth’s ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’ soliloquy and Lady Macbeth’s ‘Out, dammed spot!’ speech.

So much of this work is memorable because of the witty energetic, beautifully timed way it is presented.  Banquo’s ghost is a hysterical figure in a sheet.  The witches dissect a cat rather than stir a cauldron.  There is blood and guts aplenty - created through mime and acutely imagined by performers and presumably the youthful audiences.

The marvelously equipped lighting rig and presumably lighting technician of the Fairfax really assists with the quick changes.

As an adult who has seen Macbeth a good number of times I found this work enlightening.  It is amazing how one always finds something new every time one approaches a Shakespeare.  This time, amongst other things, I was left thinking that perhaps Lady Macbeth displayed bipolar symptoms.

Listening to families in the audience the work was generating heaps of discussion between parents and children.

This show is totally worth catching, really educational but fun.

Suzanne Sandow

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