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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MACBETH (article first published : 2005-03-5)

Director Garth Anderson never ceases to amaze me with his capacity for resilience in the fragile survival landscape that is the arts industry. His Actors Co-Operative theatre company has garnered numerous awards, as he has himself for the excellence of his productions.

The last time he presented Macbeth for Durban learners, he used the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre which is a very “giving” performing space and one in which even the most moderately competent actor can be heard. This time he has chosen the Playhouse Opera, a beautiful venue for the audience but a forbidding cavern for actors in terms of voice projection, particularly if the production is played without sounding boards like sets, backdrops or props.

Unfortunately, not all of his performers in this production of Macbeth can cope with the daunting challenge. I can see that much work has been done on voice projection, but even with the help of ambient microphones, articulation is desperately needed. The number of performers whose dialogue could be heard distinctly and without struggling to “de-code” can be counted on one hand.

That aside, this Macbeth is fast-moving and well-directed. Quincy Fynn brings an interesting interpretation to the title role and the learners adore him. He’s hip, he’s cool, he’s intelligent. He’s pumped up with power when his dastardly deed earns him the crown and crumbles to a coke-sniffing, shambling and hysterical mess as his world starts tumbling around him.

I liked Lucy Wallace’s Lady Macbeth, particularly when she becomes punch drunk with her evil actions, but her voice is sounding strained on this large stage. Other impressive performances came from Matthew Oats who makes a welcome return to the Durban theatre and gives a commanding performance as Ross/Lennox; Mamthandi Zulu as a spunky First Witch and a concerned Gentlewoman; tall and imposing Stembiso Mbatha as Banquo, and Shika Budhoo as a spirited Lady Macduff. Playing the ill-fated Duncan, Garth Anderson understands and presents the Shakespearean text so well, it’s like slipping into a pair of comfortable shoes.

In his first mainstream production, Dylan Vial (Donaldbain) is an actor to watch, attracting attention with his clear, surprisingly deep voice. Another one to watch is Daniel Watson who plays Young Macduff.

Special mention must be made of Dylan Heaton’s superb lighting design, impressive in its cool intensity, fractured spread or hot and angry in the battles and murder scene.

With Peter Court lending support as assistant director, Macbeth is the sixth in the Actors Co-operative series of professional Shakespeare undertakings and is presented in association with The Playhouse Company.

An additional public performance will be held on March 11 at 19h00. Tickets R40 (R35 students/pensioners). Booking is through Computicket on 083 915 8000, www.computicket.com, or through Dial-a-Seat on 031-369 9555.

Schools performances run until March 17. Tickets R30 per learner (one teacher free per 30 pupils). Schools bookings through Margie Coppen on 083 251 9412. – Caroline Smart

Following its Playhouse season, a short tour of Macbeth will see a performance at John Ross High School in Richards Bay on March18; Hilton College Theatre from March 22 to 24; and the Port Shepstone Civic Centre on March 25. Tour performances are at 8h30 and 11h30 daily. Bookings on 083 251 9412.




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