Friday, 22 August 2014


(Sydney Theatre Company)

Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' about the General who kills to fulfil a prophesy that he will become King of Scotland then with his wife's encouragement continues to kill to maintain his position.

This production from the Sydney Theatre Company inverts the usual staging by placing the audience on the stage to look out upon an empty auditorium. The play itself is staged on a comparatively small extension of the stage into the auditorium. The advantages of this are probably that most of the audience is close to the action, the disadvantage being the discomfort of the tight, banked seating.

The staging here is simple in the extreme. Two long tables placed end to end, eight irregular chairs, a crown and a King's cloak constituting the set. Fans have been placed in the circle to blow smoke across the stage and over the audience for effect and light and sound do most of the rest.

For the first half an hour with the lit empty auditorium as the visible background I wondered why the production wasn't simply placed into a smaller theatre if the intention was to bring the audience close to the action. But then the auditorium went dark and from that point it became a part of the staging with coloured light denoting time of day and characters from time moving about the empty space, even sitting high in the upper circle, to deliver some of their lines. To my surprise I found the overall effect quite interesting.

An ensemble of eight play the various roles with Hugo Weaving striking as the title character.

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