Live review: State Theatre Company’s Macbeth

STRONG PRESENCE: Former Mount Gambier actor Rashidi Edward on stage at Adelaide's Dunstan Playhouse as part of the State Theatre Company's production of Macbeth. Picture: CHRIS HERZFELD
STRONG PRESENCE: Former Mount Gambier actor Rashidi Edward on stage at Adelaide’s Dunstan Playhouse as part of the State Theatre Company’s production of Macbeth. Picture: CHRIS HERZFELD

A DETAILED set, intricate lighting and eerie sounds complemented the powerful story of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth performed by the State Theatre Company.

Finishing its 2017 season with style, the company performed Macbeth at Adelaide’s Dunstan Playhouse from August 25 to September 16.

With plenty of blood, betrayal and tragedy, the company’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s historical play left a lasting impression on audience members.

From the opening flash to the final black out, audiences were engaged by the demanding presence of lead actor Nathan O’Keefe.

As the blood-thirsty tyrant Macbeth, O’Keefe voiced some of Shakespeare’s most memorable lines as his character confronted the twisted darkness in his mind.

Throughout the banquet scene, his fellow ensemble is led to believe Macbeth is feeling “unwell” and experiencing a “fit” as he begins talking to his bloody murder victims while at the table.

Though the others cannot see the figments of imagination, Macbeth is driven insane by his actions and this is where O’Keefe came to life.

His companion Lady Macbeth also known as Gruoch, was portrayed by actress Anna Steen.

Steen’s performance was heart wrenching as we watched her fall victim to her own actions and eventually beg for hope and life elsewhere.

The chemistry between O’Keefe and Steen was admirable, the actors shared blood, sweat and tears in a number of too-close-for-comfort occasions.

Former Mount Gambier resident Rashidi Edward also featured in the production as Malcolm, king Duncan’s eldest son.

As the only character not covered in blood at the show’s end, Edward is named king of Scotland in the final scene after Macbeth is killed in an act of revenge.

Edward’s strong presence on stage was felt throughout the theatre, especially during his short single spotlight monologue.

With the impressive and detailed yet simplistic set a highlight of the show, designer Victoria Lamb created an incredible setting for the bloody events to unfold.

The set worked in perfect sync with the intricate lighting and use of shadows to intensify character monologues.

Lighting designer Geoff Cobham created many memorable moments with his range of directional techniques enhancing some of the play’s most powerful scenes.

The set, lighting and costume all worked in conjunction with the sound and music with composer DJ Trip and sound designer Andrew Howard leading the audience through a journey of light and shade.

The strong visual of this production made Shakespeare’s often complex language and story easy to follow.

The confronting use of blood made the play exciting and intriguing as the audience questioned the “magic” of theatre.

Blood stains on the floorboard symbolised the ripple effect of pain which follows death – a strong message in the story of Macbeth.

Director Geordie Brookman should be praised for this memorable and moving rendition of Shakespeares’s Macbeth.

The company will now prepare for the upcoming 2018 season which will feature its largest regional tour to date.

Macbeth was a great insight to the potential of this company and a preview to what audiences may experience at the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre next year.