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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 : 2002-03-7)

It was a stifling hot midday in Pietermaritzburg, in Carter High School’s hall with some 400 children assembled to watch Kwasuka Theatre Company’s production of Macbeth. Directed by Patrick Collyer, it is one of two presentations by different companies currently doing the rounds.

Did I say it was hot? With the glass doors opened to let in what breeze there was but curtained to shut out the light to allow a theatrical atmosphere, my heart bled for a cast that had to sustain the audience’s imagination for an unbroken period of 80 minutes with Shakespeare’s most bloody tragedy.

But they went right ahead and did just that. Much of the accolade must go to Michael Gritten who handled the part of Macbeth with an initial noble strength, subtley introducing the shift in focus as he becomes power-mad under the influence of his manipulative wife. His final moments when he acknowledges the end – defeat but never surrender – were riveting.

As Lady Macbeth, Catherine Mace put in a calculated and suitably disturbing performance, particularly as Lady Macbeth is seen as one of the witches. However, her voice proves a major obstacle to the deeper tones of the character. I know Catherine has an impressive lower range because I’ve heard it when she sings but she doesn’t use it to good advantage in speech.

Dennis Schauffer – always to be relied upon to do justice to any role – played Duncan and the Porter. I would also like to mention his well-placed and sensible talk to the students before the show.

TheThreeWitches – because they perform thus: inseparably, sinuously intertwining arms and bodies – are deliciously horrible. However, opportunities were missed to focus on the fact that Lady Macbeth is leading a double life.

As MacDuff, Patrick Kenny showed himself to have a hitherto unseen powerful stage presence. In the final showdown with Macbeth, they were worthy adversaries. Shannon Kenny, his wife in real life, alternates between being a hysterical witch and an elegant member of the household. Ivan Boniasczuk was a suitably imposing Banquo and Mbongiseni Buthelezi gave a calm dignity to Malcolm. Stacey Taylor completes the impressive witch threesome and also plays the hapless Lady Macduff. Appearing in various parts are Sans Moonsamy and Adhir Kalyan.

The cast remains on stage for most of the performance, moving in for their cues. There is effective use of percussive instruments but the Japanese styled costumes take a little getting used to. All credit to the performers who coped with school bells ringing and a fairly hefty lawnmower thundering away outside. And did I remember to tell you it was hot?

There will be a public performance of Macbeth at Kwasuka Theatre on Friday at 19h30. Book at Computicket or at the theatre on 031 309-2236. - Caroline Smart




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