Mr & Mrs Macbeth of Dodson Valley Rd
01/06/2023 - 15/06/2023
Director - Gregory Cooper
Set Design - Mark McEntyre
Costume Design - Pauline Farley
Lighting Design - Sean Hawkins
Music Composition and Sound - Bob Bickerton
The Professional Theatre Co
The premiere production from The Professional Theatre Co, Mr & Mrs Macbeth of Dodson Valley Rd, is filled with calamity, chaos and comedy. Written and directed by Gregory Cooper, and with Mark Hadlow and Lara Macgregor sizzling at every line, the play begins backstage, just before curtains up on opening night.
Crisp, sharp dialogue, revelations and discoveries on both sides provide moments of emotion, accusations and crackling synergy. With a crisis just before the interval, disaster seems imminent. The second half is filled with every actor’s nightmare – being in the wrong play at the wrong time, especially when Taika Waititi is in the house casting for his Amazon-funded film version of the Shakespearian tragedy.
Theatre Royal Nelson
1-15 June 2023
Tues-Fri at 7pm
Sat at 1pm & 7pm
Sun at 4pm
Book at Theatre Royal https://www.theatreroyalnelson.co.nz/show/mr-mrs-macbeth-of-dodson-valley-road/
And touring to:
SkyCity Theatre Auckland, 25-29 July
Tom - Mark Hadlow
Jo - Lara Macgregor
Voice of Timmy - Bob Bickerton
Stage Manager Rehearsals and Properties - Aisha Cumming
Production Manager and Show Stage Manager - Steve Thomas
Set Construction: Jason Stewart Builders and ET Engineering
2hrs (including interval)
Cracking new Kiwi take on The Bard has audience in stitches
Review by John Du Four 02nd Jun 2023
As opening night pressures goes, this one is right up there.
Not only does the cast and crew of Mr & Mrs Macbeth of Dodson Valley Rd have to face the usual opening night stresses, they have the additional burden of debuting a brand new piece of Kiwi theatre—not just any theatre, but a play within a play about one of the greatest tragedies of all time: Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
As if that’s not enough, there is the added weight of the performance being the premier of a new professional theatre company—unambiguously entitled The Professional Theatre Co—in its home town of Wakatū, Nelson.
Hardly surprising the atmosphere in the full house is one of excitement and expectation. And as the Company’s name promises, the audience is presented with a night of sheer theatrical professionalism.
From the first glimpse of the startling strip-lighting that frames Mark McEntyre’s set—a dressing room forming the backdrop for the entire show—we know we’re in for something different.
Enter Mark Hadlow—as big a draw card as you’ll find in New Zealand—in a burst of physical comedy that reminds us of his time-honed skills and immediately sets the comedic tone for the evening.
Hadlow is the creative force behind The Professional Theatre Co’s establishment, and the gusto he brings to this performance is both commanding and a delight. It is matched in its entirety by the other lead in the two-hander play: Lara Macgregor, whose own CV is every bit as lengthy and impressive as Hadlow’s.
The two actors deliver a fierce ride as they bicker and fuss their way through the play’s first half, presenting a stale, disillusioned marriage that is uncomfortably familiar. But never far away is the one-liner or quick physical gag that brings laughter, and relief, to the audience—thanks to the cracking script and detailed direction of writer/director Gregory Cooper.
Cooper steadily references the real Macbeth, with many of the biggest laughs coming from knowing nods to the original, but he never overplays his hand—it would be all too easy to slip into simple parody.
Instead, in the second half—moving from one laugh-out-loud disaster to another—the play becomes a sublime masterclass in farce, physical comedy, gnawing vulnerability and on-point poignancy, as Tom and Jo Macbeth finally nail what it is underpinning their failing union, and unwittingly set out on a path of healing.
Sean Hawkins’ lighting design skilfully takes the audience from dressing room to stage to dressing room in a blur of comedic timing that keeps the audience laughing continuously.
The mood flicks from light to dark to light in an instant, supported by Bob Bickerton’s subtle yet defining sound design.
Mention must be made of the brief, mesmerising dance sequence towards the play’s end, choreographed by Natalia Harrington, which manages to movingly encapsulate the entire push/pull, love/hate, laugh/cry journey we’ve shared with the Macbeths.
With just enough bawdy humour, a good sprinkling of self-aware smarts, and as solid a piece of professional performance as anyone could wish for, Mr & Mrs Macbeth of Dodson Valley Rd is a must-see treat, and an auspicious beginning for a new force in Kiwi theatre.
Shakespeare himself would surely approve—as does the audience, who give the show a standing ovation.
Don’t miss this one!
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