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Macbeth Theatre Review

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Essay title: Macbeth Theatre Review

The play Macbeth, directed by Arthur Dignam and Robert Menzies, was unique from other interpretations of the well-known Shakespeare play ‘Macbeth’, as the main characters were performed by women, and one of the ‘Weird Sisters’ was performed by the male director, Arthur Dignam.

This casting decision of experimenting with different gender roles is indeed interesting as it eliminates stereotypes i.e. witches are known to be females; and it challenges the idea of “what it means to be a man”. In addition, in Shakespearian days, the men played female roles.

It was interesting to see how these actors portrayed such strong characters of the opposite sex. Anni Finsterer rather exaggerated her portrayal of Macbeth in some scenes. She seemed to be an imitation of a powerful man, rather than being that powerful man herself. Fortunately, Finsterer was dressed ambiguously with just a tank top and jeans rather than attempting a male’s physical appearance. The well-known play suggests that any man, no matter how noble he is, can fall evil. It is hard to believe that Finsterer’s portrayal of Macbeth was ever noble, and was clearly immoral to begin with.

Finsterer’s performance collided somewhat with Helen Thomson’s performance of Lady Macbeth, who, in the play, has power over Macbeth to a certain degree. When Thomson is making her speeches that influence Macbeth to take action, he is not scared into it as in the play. Rather, it seems that Finsterer was attempting to be a man so much that the journey of a hero turned to a tyrant is lost. The only sign of Finsterer’s journey is towards the end where her hair is worn out and has a wild look to it.

Thomson’s performance was agreeable, although this could be a result of being the only ‘feminine’ character in the performance and therefore stood out. Her black fitted dress with a low cut-V emphasised her femininity. This choice of costuming was good because it fits with the play, as Lady Macbeth is a sexual character. The sleep walking scene performed by Thomson was unfortunately disappointing and not at all emotionally touching. Her wail seemed to be a poor imitation of Judi Dench’s sleep walking scene in Trevor Nunn’s production of Macbeth.

However, Thomson, Lotte St Clair and Dignam’s portrayal of the Weird Sisters was exceptional, entertaining and very original. They were without a doubt, the highlight of the play. Their performance with the eerie music and the classy costumes including trench coats, fur coats, big crocodile bags and large feathery hats and gloves, depicted them as kooky but not revolting as typical witches are often portrayed. They also seemed to be the only light, or happiness in the play which is ironic as they are the sole cause of the play’s darkness. Due to their outstanding performance, it was disappointing not seeing more of them, but even more disappointing to discover that their famous line

“Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble”

was brutally cut out of the production, and yet quoted on the flyer handed to the audience.

Apart from rather poor performances, it was difficult to refrain from drifting in and out of the play. This could be due to a repetitive beat playing in the background as well as some monotonous speeches. However, when a line was emphasised, it was done well as sudden loud music would play.

Other than the witches entertaining performances, the sound was also exceptional. Recognition must go to the entire casting crew for each cast member contributing to the sound. The sound

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