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ACTORS CO-OP MACBETH (article first published : 2002-02-16)

Garth Anderson’s Actors Co-Operative in association with the National Arts Council and The Playhouse Company are currently presenting a production of Macbeth at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

This is the Actors Co-Op’s most ambitious project to date and in general the 13-member cast acquit themselves well. Under the careful control of literary advisor Clare Mortimer, Shakespeare’s text is respected and learners should have no problem following the action of this dramatic, blood-soaked and vengeful tale which is a prescribed Matric setbook this year.

The opening and closing music have a distinctly Indian theme which was not developed into the production and its use seemed puzzling. The rest of the music was highly effective, particularly that in the well-choreographed opening battle scene.

Striding off with the acting honours was Belinda Harward whose Lady Macbeth was stylish and ambitious, a powerful influence on the originally uncomplicated mind of the warrior/soldier she has married. As Macbeth, Ben Vos was lithe and mercurial with flaming red hair and their scenes together had a stirring magnetism. It’s all too easy to make Macbeth petulant when the consequence of his actions start to take their toll. Ben Vos avoided falling into this trap, but I would have liked to have seen a weightier performance from him.

The rest of the cast would do well to take note of how experienced actors Garth Anderson (Duncan and the Doctor) and Peter Court (Ross, Seyton and an utterly delicious Porter) handle the Shakespearean text. While it is important to bring Shakespeare into a contemporary world for learners, the text itself demands strong voice production and diction skills from the actors. As Lady Macduff, Clare Mortimer showed that even the smallest scene can be forceful and compelling. Hopefully we will see more of this actress.

Other actors who impressed were Teboho T-Bone Hlahane whose movement skills stood him in good stead as Third Witch as well as Macduff and Jack Devnarain who brought a sincere strength to the role of Banquo. Young Andrew Kerr handled his role as Macduff’s son with maturity. Other members of the cast were Karen Campbell-Gillies, Tyrone Akal, Edward Berridge and Andile Mngadi.

The stage is bare apart from a spotlit centre circle, hairstyles sport dreadlocks and costumes are mainly black with most of the men bare-chested. Strange choice for the cold and misty highlands of Scotland but perhaps this was supposed to signify their physical fitness and hardiness!

There will be another public performance at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on February 22 at 19h00. The production then moves to Empangeni/Richards Bay for performances at various venues on February 25 and 26. Then it’s back to Hilton College for schools and public performances on February 28 and March 1.

Booking is open at Computicket, credit card bookings on 011 340-8000 or 083 915-8000. Online bookings at www.computicket.com. For block bookings or for schools performances, contact Garth Anderson of the Actors Co-operative on 083 439 -1532.




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