TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland

05/02/2014 - 08/02/2014

Production Details


Following the success of their last production, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (“…full of energy, adventure and daring” – Theatreview 2012) the Young Auckland Shakespeare Company is back with their 2nd annual summer production, MACBETH.

Director Jacque Drew (TYGRES HEART SHAKESPEARE CO USA, TOI WHAKAARI, THE ACTORS’ PROGRAM, UNITEC, AYA) has been working intensively all summer with a group of 22 young actors – aged 13 to 25 – to bring the well-known play to life at The Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) in Western Springs. Her interpretation honours the original text and places the action in a in a dystopic tribal wasteland where ambition and corruption see Macbeth and his wife hurtle towards their doom.

This highly trained youth company works with Fight Director Michael Hurst (NO HOLDS BARD, SPARTICUS, HERCULES, STEP DAVE) and Voice Coach Kirstie O’Sullivan (NIDA, TOI WHAKAARI, UNITEC, THE ACTORS’ PROGRAM, SHORTLAND ST) throughout rehearsals. Emphasis is placed on mining the images in the text, and looking for extremity in character, emotion, relationships, in order to bring relevance to a younger and much more visual  generation.

Shakespeare’s language remains in its intended form in this production. Language is the last civilised and elegant thing that we have in this post-apocalyptic world.   It’s our entertainment in a life without social media, TV or gaming. Language maintains its status. It is the last bastion of culture in a world where almost everything has been lost.


What: William Shakespeare’s Macbeth 
Genre: Shakespeare, Tragedy 
When: 5- 8th Feb 2014. Wednesday – Saturday 7pm, Saturday matinee 2pm 
Who: Directed by Jacque Drew, performed by a cast of 22 actors aged 13 – 25
Where: TAPAC, 100 Motions Road, Western Springs;
How much: $25/ $20
Book: 09 845 0295 or  

Designers:  Jacque Drew, Caleb Wells 
Fight Director:  Michael Hurst 
Vocal Coach:  Kirstie O’Sullivan
Lighting Designer:  Ruby Reihana-Wilson
Assistant Director:  Jenny Parham 

MACBETH:  Oscar Wilson
LADY MACBETH:  Albertine Jonas
MACDUFF:  Jeremy Fraser-Hoskin
LADY MACDUFF:  Alice Allfree
MACDUFF CHILD:  2 Sam Meyerhoff
DUNCAN:  James Heskett
MALCOLM:  Flynn Mehlhopt
DONALBAIN:  Salomé Grace Neely
BANQUO:  Irene Corbett
FLEANCE:  Sydney Everard
PORTER:  Murdoch Keane
WEIRD SISTER 1:   Mirabai Pease
WEIRD SISTER 2:  Katie Longbottom
WEIRD SISTER 3:  Vida Gibson
ROSS:  Eugene Kim
LENNOX:  Matthew Kereama
ANGUS:  Geneva Norman
DOCTOR/ MURDERER 1:  Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Producer:  Rita Stone 
Stage Manager:  Alice Kirker 
Assistant Stage Manager:  Brittany Smith
Lighting Operator:  Riley Mooney
Sound Operator:  Adam Laws 
Design Crew / Construction:  Carol Kodama, Casy Crawley, Jessica Suo
Photography/ Poster Design:  Jessica Suo 

Theatre ,

Like a cultural volcano bursting with flashes of potential power

Review by Johnny Givins 07th Feb 2014

Macbeth, Shakespeare’s masterpiece, is brought to life in an original and bloody fashion by Auckland’s Young Shakespeare Company at TAPAC.  It is a treasure trove of theatrical gems and a volcano of creative potentiality. 

Director Jacque Drew has worked with a company of 22 actors (13-25 years old) over the last three weeks and evolved a creative and dynamic 90 minute voyage.  Assisted by Michael Hurst for fights, and Kirstie O’Sullivan for voice, she set the play in a dystopian tribal wasteland at the edges of civilisation; sort of Kingdom of Thrones, crossed with a 23rd Century Tribe.

This is an ensemble production where every actor has a distinctive character generated through creative costumes and makeup.  Old King Duncan is blind and wears sheepskins and welding goggles! 

Oscar Wilson is superb as the driven hero Macbeth.  With a very creditable and clear Scottish accent, he is an animalistic violent sexual beast with his ambitious wife Lady Macbeth (Albertine Jonas).  Their first scene together is a jolt of electrical energy as they trade bloods and passion. 

However this quickly diminishes as the action takes over and both settle into more classic reading of the extraordinary script.  As the idea has been planted in that first meeting I really want to see more of the ‘animal’ and ‘beast’ in the couple as they become mentally unstable.  I want more “Scorpions in my mind”.

The script has been cut to the bones as the major threads of the plot are followed. This does allow the fast flow of the story but diminishes the power of the gradual character development of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.  I also miss the Banquo (Irene Crobett who is full of heart) and Macbeth development.  However most of the major scenes are in the production. 

The ensemble cast give creditable performances of the classic scenes. The production targets the ‘language’ and it is mostly clear and well articulated although playing in traverse has its problems for actors, with two audiences to play to. 

There are real gems in the show. Macbeth’s “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech is one of my favourites. Oscar Wilson’s approach is uncluttered, vocally clear and crackles with disappointment and cynicism, but finishes with the ‘moment of heroic fire’ so essential for the final act to be successful. 

The witches are truly extraordinary. Mirabai Pearse, Katie Longbottom and Vida Gibson are a tight evil three, playing with, off and around each other.  A great touch is that one of them is wearing a metal collar with a long chain held by her sister! But wait for the payoff as she has a special role as a powerful mystical force.

Especially clear in this production is the Macduff Family.  We meet them right at the first ‘court’ scene (the throne actually set on top of a ruined car): Dad Macduff (Jeremy Fraser-Hoskins), tall, handsome, honourable and stanch, next to his beautiful and caring wife (Alice AllFreee) with their Son (Sam Meyerhoff), a distinctive, unique young man taking in the world around him with intelligence wit and charm, and their lovely daughter (Amy Wood), naive, sensitive and at sea in this strange world.  We don’t see them again until much later in the plot before the horrific slaughter scene.  All three have striking empathy with understandable dialogue and interaction making their family massacre truly awful and tragic. 

The value in such production is in seeing the potential and creative energy of these young performers.  It is a credit to Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand’s Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Competition and Festival that the Bard is so familiar to many of the cast.  It shows in their eagerness to make the language clear and actable.

The audience really witnesses the emerging potential of these actors.  Take the very young Malcolm (Flynn Mehilhopf) for example. In most of the early scenes he is in the background and later he takes over – a new energy strides the stage as he tests the integrity of Macduff.  His famous ‘king speech’ hits every mark and stuns not only Macduff but the audience.  Like so many in the cast here is an actor with ‘potential’.  That is not to overlook the Porter (Murdoch Keane). The “Knock, knock, knock!” scene is a tour de force of comic timing and entertainment.  The line “remember the Porter” is a call to an agent! 

This is Rita Stone’s second production with her Young Auckland Shakespeare Company.  Macbeth follows in the success of Taming of the Shrew last year.  It is a project that should become a regular part of our cultural landscape.  It is like a cultural volcano bursting with flashes of potential power which augers for some fireworks in the future.

Programme note: contains sexual references, representations of supernatural forces and graphic death scenes.


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Scot problems

Review by Matt Baker 07th Feb 2014

Shakespeare wrote for an aural audience; he doesn’t show, he tells. Accordingly, an actor’s vocal articulation is as an integral element of their performance as much as their understanding of the text. Fortunately, I know Macbeth as a text. I say fortunately, because had I not, I doubt I would have understood much of what was going on in the Young Auckland Shakespeare Company’s production. Take into account the fact that Macbeth is essentially a psychological and political thriller, and my concern is that an audience member of the YASC production without former knowledge of the play would be left equally in the dark in regards to actual the plot. 

Oscar Wilson’s decision to play the role with a Scottish accent may certainly have been the key to him finding his performance, however, the degree of accuracy resulted in an incredibly inarticulate one. While the dark Scottish vowels give Wilson access to Macbeth’s emotionality, it unfortunately means nothing if the audience cannot hear the words. The irony of completely missing the last word of the tomorrow soliloquy is not lost. [More]


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