Globe Theatre, 104 London St, Dunedin

17/10/2013 - 26/10/2013

Production Details

Scottish Kings battle it out in the Edinburgh of the South 

Amidst a dystopian backdrop, the powers of the supernatural conspire to make a mockery of the once-courageous Macbeth. With visions of nobility placed in front of him, and spurred on by his maleficent wife who would be queen, he sets forth on a dire path of regicide and corruption. But when the smoke clears who will be left standing and over what will they rule? 

The Globe Theatre is proud to present ‘Macbeth’, considered to be one of Shakespeare’s darkest and most powerful tragedies, directed by Dale Neill. A play that explores the themes of unchecked ambition, and the blurred lines between Kingship and Tyranny, it also looks at the concept of fate versus free will. Of the many questions asked within ‘Macbeth’, the most powerful that still haunts us today is: do we actually have free will, or, are our lives already set on a path that we can do nothing to alter?

Paying homage to our distinct Scottish heritage, the Globe Theatre presents ‘Macbeth’ for the new generation. This is Macbeth-Removed: not only from time but also from Scotland.

What: ‘Macbeth’, by William Shakespeare
Where: Globe Theatre, 104 London Street
When: 17 – 26 October 2013
How Much: $20 general; $15 concession and groups 5+; $10 members
Opening Night, Thursday 17 October: All tickets $10
Book: 477 3274 (message) or 

Macbeth:  Miguel Nitis
Lady Macbeth:  Helen Fearnley
Queen Duncan:  Di Johnson
Morag:  Katherine Scott
Donaldbain:  Oscar Macdonald
Banquo:  Sofie Welvaert
Fleance:  Juliet McLachlan
Macduff:  Andrew Brinsley-Pirie
Lady Macduff:  Sofie Welvaert
1st Witch:  Laura Wells
2nd Witch:  Alexander Ross
3rd Witch:  Annabelle Carpenter
Hecate:  Elsa May
Lennox:  Kimberley Buchan
Ross:  Deon Miller
Menteith:  Oscar Macdonald
Angus:  Lawrence Kennett
Siward:  Ellie Swann
Young Siward:  Juliet McLachlan
Seyton:  Penelope Couper
Lord:  Penelope Couper
English Doctor:  Di Johnson
Scottish Doctor:  Dale Neill
Sergeant:  Penelope Couper
Son of Macduff:  Juliet McLachlan
Gentlewoman:  Elsa May
Porter:  Dale Neill
Old Man:  Di Johnson
1st Murderer:  Penelope Couper
2nd Murderer:  Ellie Swann
Servant / Messenger:  Lani Swann

PRODUCERS:  Kelly Harris, Maree Gibson, Lana Sklenars
MUSIC:  Annie Webster  
DESIGN:  Lana Sklenars  

Director:  Dale Neill
Assistant Director:  Alexandra Ross
Stage Manager:  Christine Johnston
Set Design:  Dale Neill, Sofie Welvaert, Alexander Ross,
Set Construction:  Ray Fleury, Don Knewstubb
Set Mural:  Brian Beresford
Lighting and Sound:  Bryan Bias 
Publicity Ellie Swann
Front of HouseVEllie Swann 
Costume Design:  Sofie Welvaert 
Assistant Designer:  Nina Duke Howard 
The Wardrobe team:  Sofie Welvaert, Nina Duke Howard, Kirsty Lewis, Scarlett Magpye, Rachael McCann, Kura Carpenter, Helen Davies 
Makeup Design:  Shaun Rae 
Makeup by Shaun Rae and Makeup Artistry students from Aoraki Polytech  

Theatre ,

Challenge of 'Macbeth' well met

Review by Barbara Frame 21st Oct 2013

Staging Macbeth, Shakespeare’s tale of prophecy, ambition, blood and revenge, is a challenge, especially in the Globe’s small space. Director Dale Neill has met it with style and vision.

A single set integrates indoor and outdoor elements and, assisted by lighting by Brian Byas, serves as a setting for the entire play. Costumes designed by Sofie Welvaert (who also acts as Banquo) and Nina Duke Howard feature tartans with military and steampunk elements. Put together by a seven-strong wardrobe team, they are complemented by makeup by Shaun Rae and Otago Polytechnic students to give the production an original, distinctive look that is both traditional and futuristic.

As often happens in amateur productions with large casts, there is some variation in performance quality, and sometimes a need for more fluidity in action and the use of performance space. Many performances, though, are highly competent and the best impressive. Miguel Nitis is a fine Macbeth, showing us a brave and loyal thane’s descent into unhinged tyranny, and Helen Fearnley is icily scary as Lady Macbeth – but I would have liked to see just a little more rapport between the two. Andrew Brinsley-Pirie is a confident and credible Macduff.

Because of the number of capable female actors available, some originally male parts have been feminised to make use of their talents. Notably, Diana Johnston takes the role of Duncan, and Kimberley Buchan provides a feisty performance as Morag, renamed from Malcolm. Laura Wells, Alexander Ross, Annabelle Carpenter and Elsa May are splendidly, exuberantly witchy as the witches and Hecate.

Congratulations are due to the huge number of people involved, on and off the stage. Shakespeare is not performed often enough in Dunedin, and this is an opportunity to see an effective production of one of his most powerful plays. The season will run until Saturday.


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Innovation and exuberant gusto make for bloody good theatre

Review by Terry MacTavish 19th Oct 2013

“It will have blood they say, blood will have blood.” With pricking thumbs I join the excited hordes battling through the Dunedin Globe’s luscious spring garden, all eagerly anticipating something wicked.  My last Macbeth was an enthralling production just a few weeks ago, at the Globe Theatre, London.  Not surprising therefore if I’d felt a touch blasé about reviewing our local production. 

But no, the premise for this interpretation is too intriguing: a dystopia some six hundred years in the future, still rife with superstition, torn by the same power struggles as eleventh century Scotland, but with women on an equal footing with men.  

Incredibly it is five years, a whole high-school generation, since the Globe mounted its last Shakespearean production.  So we should rejoice at this chance to see a work of genius, especially as we head for the silly season when all we’re likely to get from any theatre is frothy farce. Certainly it is a massive challenge to do justice to a masterpiece, but what this cast may lack in experience it makes up in energy and imagination, and Macbeth is the perfect choice.

In many ways it is the most accessible of the tragedies: clear storyline, strong characters, thrilling supernatural elements, violent action, inner conflict, tortured relationships, spellbinding imagery, marvellous memorable speeches, questions to ponder … and blood. 

Director Dale Neill has plunged in headlong. This is rough and ready Macbeth, no clever politics or smooth courtiers, just an unruly rabble struggling to survive in a dystopian world where everything is lost if order collapses, a future in which all that remains from our time is tartan, iambic pentameter, and the eternal battle between good and evil. 

The set is attractive, and logical in conventional way: a triptych of blasted heath, castle walls, and throne room, set about with packing cases. A lovely bare winter tree is painted on the actual black wall of the theatre. I can’t but feel though, that there’s a missed opportunity for a really innovative, utterly devastated futuristic landscape, some wasteland where the desperate skirmishes and clinging to power would be more raw, more real, and ultimately more relevant. 

The stage seems underused, with too many speeches simply delivered downstage centre, straight to the audience.  This cast is youthful and active enough to bring more physicality to the performance, and the wooden cases seem made to be shifted around. 

But the play moves swiftly, scene following hard on heels of scene with no changes necessary, the locations generally clear.  

Sofie Welvaert’s imaginative costumes absolutely do live up to expectation: bizarrely glamorous tartan rags against black, splashed with green satin; slightly steampunk, totally cool.  Some of the exotic, meticulously crafted pieces – crowns, hair-combs, swords and goggles – will be auctioned at end of the season.* Aoraki polytechnic students get to show off their talents too, creating original, very arresting face painting for each character. 

Macbeth himself is no one-dimensional villain, but a true tragic hero – initially a valiant soldier and honourable man who hesitates to kill his liege, confessing “I have no spur … but only vaulting ambition”. He makes the wrong choice and suffers the horrifying and inescapable consequences, as does the wife who urges him on. Both Macbeth and his Lady, however, must call on the powers of darkness for the evil strength to overcome their better natures.  

She: “Come, thick night,
   And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
   That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
   Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark
   To cry ‘Hold, hold’.”

He: “Stars, hide your fires;
   Let not light see my black and deep desires.” 

Again and again, until their crime separates them, they echo each other like this: dark soulmates! 

As Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Miguel Nitis and Helen Fearnley need more time to develop this depth of intimacy, and make their passionately involved relationship fully credible, but they are a handsome couple and tackle their roles courageously. 

Miguel Nitis, extraordinary theatrical all-rounder, is a compelling performer and conveys the sense of his lines with good vocal clarity.  His interpretation, while intelligent, tends to be pedantic rather than intense, which means some scenes fall a little flat. With more sound and fury, for instance, Macbeth’s reaction to the discovery of Duncan’s murder would seem demented enough to explain the unplanned slaughter of the guards; and more fear and dread as he confronts the “secret, black and midnight hags” would enhance the sinister nature of the Witches’ rituals.

However his calmly prosaic approach works well as Macbeth broods over his (understandably) disloyal subjects, plotting spy tactics and revenge, and Nitis is chilling as he shares a tyrant’s paranoia:
“There’s not a one of them but in his house
  I keep a servant fee’d.”

As his “dearest partner of greatness,” Fearnley is similarly composed and elegant, svelte in striking green bustle and tight black bodice.  A match for her husband in strength, Fearnley is especially effective in the famous sleep-walking scene, by which time she is destroyed by guilt. (Who needs Freud? Shakespeare is the master of psychology!) After this, Lady Macbeth fades from the action, but Neill’s direction interestingly permits us to witness her eventual fate.

In collaboration with Welvaert and Alexandra Ross, Neill has made a virtue of necessity by casting women in several key male roles.  Somehow this works beautifully and proves one of the true strengths of the production.  Queen Duncan, played by Diana Johnson, is strongly reminiscent of Celtic warrior queen Boudicca (or Boadicea).  Duncan always was a bit of a softie, and many of his lines, as when he grieves over Cawdor’s betrayal – “He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust” – actually sound better spoken by a woman.

Kimberley Buchan is outstanding as Malcolm, renamed Morag, daughter to Duncan and obviously destined to rule; a proud, courageous young Amazon in tartan tunic. Here again, Malcolm’s wariness when in exile can seem rather prissy, but appears eminently sensible when expressed by Morag.  A woman has always more cause to beware of treachery!  But Buchan makes of her a woman who convinces us Scotland will be in safe hands once she is restored to power. 

The multi-talented Welvaert struts the stage as Banquo and, dressed for combat, she succeeds in creating a credible soldier, and friend to Macbeth of palpable integrity. (Perhaps she was channelling Helen Clark.) Like almost all the actors, these three speak their lines with admirable clarity of diction. 

Some of the thanes do have a little trouble with the verse, though Andrew Brinsley-Pirie makes a suitably stern Macduff, touching in his heartbreak.  I miss the potential power in his cry: “Turn hell-hound, turn!” but his casual dumping of his enemy’s remains appeals to me. Yes, a bit sick.  

The Weird Sisters, led by a confident Laura Wells, are intriguing and enjoyably creepy.  Their concealing hooded capes shed to reveal slinky green slips, they writhe and cackle around Elsa May who, in stunning Medusa headdress, makes a scintillating Hecate.  Lit with glimmering blue, the cauldron steams and bubbles, and the conjured apparitions flicker effectively on the castle wall, though it’s a pity they don’t emanate from the cauldron itself. 

The large cast list requires doubling or trebling of roles – the angelic-looking Juliet McLachlan, playing a series of innocent young lads, is savagely slaughtered no less than three times! 

The director also appears as the drunken porter, improvising pretty freely but carrying it off with a chuckle and full-on energy.  A natural comic, he finds the funny side of Lady Macbeth’s doctor too. Who knew “Will she now go to bed?” could score such a laugh? 

Meantime Ellie Swann and Penelope Couper (among others to numerous to mention!) are unashamedly having great fun in a plethora of roles, ranging from annoyingly stoic Old Siward to the kookiest Murderers ever. 

That is actually one of the chief pleasures of this production, tragedy though it is: the sheer enjoyment of the cast, which readily communicates itself to the audience in the wonderful, intimate space of the Globe Theatre. 

The lively Facebook page (“A drum! A drum! Macbeth doth come!”) seems to have enticed a new young crowd into the old theatre, enthusiastic and quick to spot unexpected humour.  A full house and heavy bookings suggest this vibrant production will reach many.  I predict they’ll return, thanks to the innovation and the exuberant gusto of the company – and because Macbeth itself is just such bloody good theatre! 
 – – – – – – – – – – – –
*All proceeds for the Silent Auction go to the Globe Roof Restoration, launched recently to preserve this heritage theatre-in-a-house, listed as Category 1 by the Historic Places Trust. 


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