Nikau Grove, behind the Children’s Playground in Victoria Esplanade, Palmerston North

05/03/2010 - 14/03/2010

Production Details

This version of “The Scottish Play” will be short on tartan, but long on camouflage and will have plenty of sound and fury, as director Paul McLaughlin incorporates some exciting contemporary New Zealand music into the mix to further intensify the theatrical experience.

Macbeth is the 8th consecutive presentation from Summer Shakespeare in Palmerston North and its cast is made up of a combination of established local actors who have featured in previous productions, such as Brendon Kinch and Mark Kilsby (who recently won a Globe Theatre award for their performances in last year’s All Well That Ends Well) and complete newcomers. It’s a fast-paced, furious, action-packed and sometimes gory play that promises a fabulous night’s entertainment for anyone who comes along.

Entry is by koha, and while there is only seating for 120 on bleachers, there is plenty of additional space to set out deckchairs or cushions, so arrive early to get the best positions. Don’t forget your woollies for later on – the Esplanade can get chilly as darkness falls. The Nikau Grove will be signposted from the Children’s Playground. 

opens at 7.30 pm on Friday 5 March
at the Nikau Grove, behind the Children’s Playground in Victoria Esplanade, Palmerston North. It runs from Friday – Sunday (5 – 7 March)
and then plays again the following weekend   (12-14th March).

First Witch                                                                           Paige Yorston-Little
Second Witch                                                                      Claire Gilchrist
Third Witch                                                                          Lynn Garrick
Duncan, King of Scotland/Doctor                                        Mark Kilsby
Malcolm, his son                                                                  Samuel Gordon
Bleeding Sergeant/Menteith                                                Nic Broomfield
Ross                                                                                    Matthew Poucher
Lennox                                                                                 Peri Chapelle
Macbeth, Thane of Glamis & Cawdor                                   Brendon Kinch
Banquo                                                                                Tom Ryder
Angus/Lord                                                                          Jono Tate-Rushworth
Lady Macbeth                                                                      Jayne Ramage
Messenger/Gentlewoman                                                    Sarah Carswell
Fleance, Banquo’s son                                                        Stasha Bakker
Seyton                                                                                 Bridget Hughes
Porter/Soldier/1st Apparition                                                Lana Sklenars
Macduff                                                                                Phil White
Donalbain/1st Murderer                                                       Jacob Dale
Old Man/Siward/2nd Apparition                                            Adam Maynard
Attendant/3rd Apparition/Messenger                                   Jared Stevens
Attendant/Soldier                                                                 Tristram Domican
2nd Murderer/Soldier/Young Siward                                    Marque Duckmanton
3rd Murderer/Caithness                                                       Stephen Hood
Hecate                                                                                  Jackie McKenzie
Lady Macduff                                                                        Leigh McLennon
Young Macduff                                                                      Anthony Rubery
Production Team
Director                                                                                 Paul McLaughlin
Executive Producer                                                               Angie Farrow
Production Manager/Publicist/Promotional Designer            Joy Green          
Assistant Director/Stage Manager                                        Gabrielle Rhodes
Costume & Make-up Designer                                              Claire New
Sound & Lighting Designer                                                   Nick Skarott     
Assistant Stage Managers                                      }            Stasha Bakker
                                                                               }            Lise Bakker
Lighting Operator                                                                 Jamie Watts
Design Assistant/Additional vocal coaching                         Jackie McKenzie             
Costume Assistant                                                               Sarah Carswell
Back-Stage/Front of House Team                           }           Sasha Lipinsky
                                                                                }           Jessie Robertson
                                                                                }           Megan Green

Paranoia and ruthlessness in theatre of war

Review by John C Ross 08th Mar 2010

So few modern productions of Shakespeare’s four big central tragedies – Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear – actually quite work, even among those done by high-prestige professional companies. Building and sustaining appropriate emotional intensities, leading up to the major crises, is hard (and accident-prone). What works in one venue may not work in another. You need someone in the male lead role who is not merely adequate but quite strong, and right for the part.

Locally, I think of Alison Quigan’s Macbeth at Centrepoint a few years ago, and in Wellington [from Auckland] Christian Penny’s King Lear (with Ian Mune), both of them quirky, and lifted by high-quality acting power. Just about the only other entirely successful Macbeth I’ve seen was done in England by the Cheek-by-Jowl Company, back in 1987: again, quirky.

Mounting Macbeth with a mainly student cast, in an outside venue (risky in itself, around here), and more-or-less in modern dress, is a huge challenge for a director; and all credit to Paul McLaughlin for making it happen. Quite interesting stuff occurs along the way. As tragedy, this production doesn’t really work; yet in this it is in surprisingly distinguished company.

Curiously, given that the director’s programme note draws attention to the dimensions of “war and political intrigue” and hence to his being, with his team, “keen to explore the politico-military aspect of the show,” it could be seen as working better as a history play, in which the stresses of warfare open up a domain in which, at the upper levels of jostling for power, and power-wielding, no-one’s loyalty can be relied upon, beyond the bounds of their own immediate self-interest, “There is no art to see the mind’s construction in the face,” and whoever gets to be king is obliged to be both paranoid and ruthless.

One of this production’s most effective moments comes when Mark Kilsby (its one veteran actor), as King Duncan, ponders silently the news of the defeat of the armed rebellion of the Thane of Cawdor (“a gentleman in whom I had an absolute trust”); defeated it has been, but the sombre implications of this violation of loyalty and trust remain to haunt him. He goes on to brusquely order Cawdor’s beheading.  

Brendon Kinch as Macbeth has a lot to do, and does it; but although he starts well, there is not yet a developed acting of the role. He looks right for it, and has a good speaking voice, yet has some distance to go with internalising and projecting either the dynamics and emotions of the lines or some sense of the character’s experiencings, and of the movement of his mind. The episode prior to the murder of Duncan, in which he tries to insist to Lady Macbeth that “We will go no further in this business,” is one of his best, yet lacks sufficient tension. In the face of her sexual blackmail, his resolution collapses rather too easily.

For Jayne Ramage, as Lady Macbeth, this was likewise her best bit of real acting, as far as it went. With her sleep-walking scene, she got some distance towards it; there was unfortunately the distracting presence of an attendant lighting her way with a kind of torch. And once again, one sensed the need for more coaching in verse-speaking, to get beyond the issues that presented.

Samuel Gordon as Malcolm, Tom Ryder as Banquo, and Leigh McLennon as Lady Macduff, in the middle order, do well enough. The other cast-members do their work.

One problem clearly arising from adopting a modern-dress idiom is that of how to convey adequately the potency of the three witches; they were a bit light-weight, and their cauldron was a white plastic bucket. Still, perhaps this didn’t matter, since this is all so familiar. A more tricky problem concerns how much potency can be given to Lady Macbeth’s invocation to the spirits of evil to enter into her.

The venue in a corner of the Esplanade Gardens was congenial enough, and some marvellous special effects were achieved by shining coloured lights upon the striations of the nikau palm trunks. Still, the action was rather too diffused over the available space.

With some performances still to go, this production may well grow further.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council