urban myth theatre company's macbeth

urban myth theatre company - macbeth
I took my annual trip (at least for the last four years) to see a production of Macbeth tonight.

This version of the Scottish play featured the Senior Ensemble of the Urban Myth Theatre Company, many of whom, according to the program, were working on Shakespeare for the very first time.

It's also possibly the first version of Macbeth that I've seen where the titular character was actually the third most charismatic male actor.

But in a lot of ways, once I managed to get my head around the idea, it actually served the character and the play better than I thought it would.

Edwin Kemp-Attrill's Macbeth is craven, small and at times a little bit awkward.

Some versions of Macbeth that I've seen, the main character has a long way to fall from the moment we meet him until the final battle scene, but Kemp-Attrill's version embodies a different kind of Macbeth.

By comparison both Nic Cutts who performs double duty as both King Duncan and the heroic Macduff and Josh Mensch in his role as Banquo both light up the stage with personality and charisma.

During Mensch's first appearance I couldn't help making the comparison between him and Kemp-Attrill and wondering whether he wouldn't have made a better Macbeth... but as soon as Cutts appeared, I felt like he was actually the Macbeth I was waiting for.

But, having said that, by the end of the play I would not have traded in either Mensch or Cutts performances.

Mensch does a brilliant job as Banquo... and once the character becomes the gory-locked spirit Mensch ramps his performance up to about eleven. He also manages to completely transform himself for the small role as Lady Macbeth's doctor, not just through costume, but his performance feels completely different.

Cutts is hard to take your eyes off of every time he steps on stage. There were two scenes that really stood out to me... the first being when Lady Macbeth (Alex Petkova) welcomes Duncan to the castle... Cutts scoops up Petkova like she's his long lost little sister, and it makes everything that comes after feel that much more like a betrayal.

The second moment is MacDuff's speech once he learns that Macbeth has slaughter his entire household. I've seen that scene performed about a dozen times, but this is the first time I've witnessed such a raw, emotional performance like the one Cutts gave. It's not over the top, it's clearly a man who is totally in shock and trying to process the fact that his whole world has just fallen apart. And it's the second time that I've teared up during a performance of Macbeth.

It also means that when the final confrontation between Macbeth and Macduff happens I was more emotionally invested than I have been in some performances.

Petkova was an interesting Lady Macbeth... her finest performance moment is during the "out damn spot" sleepwalking scene, especially when she walks towards the audience intoning "to bed" over and over. But there are other moments where she feels less convincing.

To be honest, a lot of the moments with Petkova and Kemp-Attrill conveying the passion between the two characters didn't completely ring true for me, although I'm not completely sure why. When Cutts embraced her it was believable, but when it was Lord and Lady Macbeth it just felt a little hollow.

Petkova also takes on the role of one of the witches along with Emma Kew and Lucca Boyce who managed to make the hair stand up on the back of my neck in their opening scene. It's something about when the witches speak in unison that always has the ability to do that to me.

Director Nick Garsden edited the play down to under two hours and took out a number of scenes or edited others sometimes a little severely. While I recognise the scenes that were lifted out completely, there was only one edit that really stood out to me, and that's during Macbeth's second confrontations with the witches and he describes seeing a vision of Banquo and his children... there was a slightly clumsy edit that removes all references to the children except for the final line. If you weren't familiar with the play you may not notice it, but it stood out to me.

Set and costume designer Kerry Reid chose an interesting look and feel for the play... it's one part industrial, one part Australian military and one part post-apocalypse. The set was completely comprised of corrugated iron columns with the occasional quote from the play graffiti'ed on the walls.

The costumes were mostly a lot of big greatcoats, waistcoats, black pants and a lot of hats in black, grey and dark blue... although there are brief moments of colour such as Macbeth's red waistcoat and Lady Macduff's blue gown.

While it wasn't the most polished of productions I've ever seen (even though this was the last night of a ten night run), there were a few moments that made it worth the trip to go and see.

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