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Macbeth in the Dark

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by Jon Cocks (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in the Adelaide Hills.
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Fair is foul and foul is fair

Born of social-isolatory necessity and the driving need of actors to perform and theatre to evolve in these trying times, Macbeth in the Dark is a Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble audio-only adaptation of the Bard of Avon's 'Scottish play'.

In an era of podcasts and audiobooks, where the spoken word has made an unlikely re-emergence from the sea of CGI on offer, director Kate Wilson has marshalled the creativity of ten actors over 25 roles and convened a unique rendering of Macbeth, which, she suggests, you enjoy in the dark.

With Dom Guilfoyle's sound engineering lending the witches' voices a technological edge, bells, horses, dogs, ominously-croaking ravens and original Celtic-style pipe, drum and autoharp music adding period ambience, the show lends itself well to headphones on the bus or the car's sound system. At two hours, it will get you to and from work over a couple of days at least.

Teachers of English will be able to make ready use of it as a highly useful way to navigate the text in class. One of the tougher challenges to engage sixteen-year-olds with Shakespeare lies in the four-hundred-year-old language. The ensemble cast, headed by Rob Pensalvini as the title character, enunciate the text with admirable clarity. And the text follows the original Folio closely, so it will match the ageing class sets admirably.

'Fair is foul and foul is fair.' The witches' paradoxical equivocation underscores this study of Macbeth's 'vaulting ambition that o'erleaps itself.' The naked Trump-like greed of the title character is focused in Rob Pensalvini's tones that grow darker as the woods of Birnam come to Dunsinane and he must encounter John Siggers's Macduff, who was 'from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd.'

Other highlights include the witches' prophecies, Lady Macbeth's (Rebecca Murphy) descent in characterisation from ambitious housewife from hell to hell itself, and the Banquo's ghost scene.

Macbeth in the Dark is a worthy undertaking, especially given the Federal government's indifference towards the arts community's loss of livelihood during the pandemic. The audio-play is available at Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble under a 'pay-what-you-can' arrangement until November 4.

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Why? It is 'something wicked'...
When: Until Nov 6
Phone: 0431305600
Where: In your audio device
Cost: What you can pay...
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