It’s fair to say that Shakespeare’s grizzly Scottish play, Macbeth, is pretty well known by most. However there are still a few of us theatre fans who haven’t quite gotten round to see the Bard’s most popular play and until Tuesday evening, I was one of them.
I’d been looking forward to getting to grips with Macbeth for ages, but decided to bypass the recent film version to see it live as Shakespeare had intended us to see it. Bard in the Botanic’s production particularly appealed as it is set outside, against the dramatic backdrop of the Scotland’s skies. Unfortunately due to heavy rain, the play was relocated to The Rep at the last minute. While this was of course disappointing, the beautiful Dundee theatre venue is always a fantastic place to see any production.
Although I’d never seen Macbeth, I did know a vague outline of the story of the man who turned into monster after being seduced by the promise of power, but what I didn’t know was what led this gentle man to seek the crown at all costs.
Bard in the Botanic version of the play, directed by Gordon Barr, is every bit as bewitching as I’d hoped it would be. While the production was a tad confusing at times, with just five cast members playing multiple roles, the actor’s superb skills made sure that I was able to keep up with who was who.
Each role was played to perfection from the power hungry Macbeth played by Kirk Bage to Robert Elkin’s spellbinding witch whose demonic face haunted me for days. But it was Lady Macbeth, played by Nicole Cooper, who stole the show for me with her stunning portrayal of a distraught childless mother who had fallen into the dark side, pulling Macbeth down with her. For more information about Bard in the Botanics and their productions, please visit: http://bardinthebotanics.co.uk/
Now that I have two Shakespearian plays under my belt, I’m desperate to see more! Which Shakespeare play would you recommend? I’d love to know…
I’m going to start this review with a bit of a confession – until Saturday night I was kind of a Shakespeare virgin! While I have of course watched various adaptations of his work on the silver screen and read some of his plays (I went through a huge and somewhat depressing Romeo and Juliet phase during my teenage years) I have never seen any of his work brought to life on stage. Shocking I know.
So when I made my way to the Dundee Rep, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I didn’t know the story of Much Ado, and I was a bit worried. Would I know what was going on? Would it be really long and boring? Well the answers to those questions are yes and no, and thankfully in that order. The story is an age old one. It’s the tale of a man and a woman, who are both absolutely perfect for one and other, but are just too proud to admit their feelings.
When I discovered that Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s comedies, I’d hoped that there would be a few laughs, but I hadn’t expected to spend most of the performance collapsed in giggles. And it wasn’t just me, the entire theatre was filled with brilliant roars of laughter.
Emily Winter was fantastic as Beatrice, the lovable but stubborn heroine of the play, but it was Robert Jack who completely stole the show, and the audience’s heart, as the hilarious Benedick. His comedic facial expressions and slapstick performance made the play for me. Of course it wasn’t all laughs, every story needs a villain and this play is no different. The darker part of the play, featuring the downfall of Beatrice’s cousin Hero (Marli Siu) at the hands of Borachio (Ewan Donald) and Don John (Ali Watt), provided just the right amount of darkness to make the story gripping as well as funny.
I needn’t have worried about the performance dragging, in fact the evening flew in and by the end of it, I’d laughed more than I had in months, years even. When I left, I heard the woman in front of me tell her companion, that Much Ado About Nothing had been so good, that she would have to come and see it again. I think I might just have to join her.
Much Ado About Nothing is at Dundee Rep until the 26th of June.
Stepping into the Dundee Rep to see Little Red and the Wolf was like stepping into a fairy tale. The theatre had been completely transformed into a magical wood, where mischief and mayhem lurked around every corner. Doing away with the theatre’s traditional seating, the action all takes place on set. Perched on our plastic chairs and floor cushions, we were so very close to the action, that we felt completely immersed in the experience the whole time.
Sitting waiting for the show to begin we were greeted by the cast who were mingling amongst the audience. Meeting Granny Island from Katie Morag (Annie Louise Ross), who plays the part of Little Red’s Granny, was a particularly special moment for my two girls who were rendered speechless for the first time I can ever remember. But also seeing the rest of the cast including the beautiful Little Red (Marli Siu) and the very charming wolf Lyka (Cristian Ortega) up close, was also very lovely.
When the play began, it was clear that this was going to be a very special production indeed. Filled with laughs, suspense and plenty of scary moments, Little Red and the Wolf had the whole audience on the edge of their seat.
Superbly acted, the concept of Little Red and the Wolf is very clever, completely turning the traditional fairy tale on its head. Watching the production I experienced the whole range of emotions. One minute I was rooting for characters and the next I was jumping out of my seat. During one particularly touching scene I may or may not have shed a tiny little tear or ten. As the mother of two girls, I was particularly pleased to see a feisty and very clever Little Red, who makes a fantastic role model for children everywhere.
My girls too absolutely loved it too and were completely mesmerised throughout, being so close made them feel like they had really been part of something very special. On leaving one wanted to become a wolf and the other an actress – so I think I can safely say the production made a big impact. All in all Little Red and the Wolf is an absolutely spellbinding production, which is not to be missed. Little Red and the Wolf runs at the Dundee Rep until the 9th of April.
To find out more and book tickets, visit the Dundee Rep’s website: www.dundeerep.co.uk
After thoroughly enjoying Dundee Rep’s spectacular production of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None a few years back, I was really excited to see their latest production of Christie’s play, Witness for the Prosecution.
The play centres around Leonard Vole, an apparently harmless and lovable rogue who stands accused of murdering the wealthy Emily French. He knew this older lady well, they were firm friends in fact, Vole even admits that he was with her on the night of her murder, but claims he was back at home long before any crime had taken place. But will the court believe that he’s innocent? Will the testimony of Vole’s strange and mysterious wife Romaine, his only alibi, be enough to prove to the judge, jury and the audience that he is in fact not guilty?
I’m not going to say much more about the story as I want you to be just as gripped by the twists and turns of the court room drama as I was. I want you too to gasp so loudly that the person next to you shakes their head and gives you a loud tsk (apologies Mum). But what I will tell you is this – I spent my entire time in the “jury” seat trying to second guess how the play would unfold, and I got it wrong every single time. Forty years after her death, Dame Agatha Christie’s still got it.
With Christie’s play demanding a big cast, this was an ambitious undertaking for the Dundee Rep, but they smashed it, producing a slick and compelling drama worthy of any west end theatre. With stellar performances, a fantastic set and a positively captivating story, I highly recommend you get yourself down to the Dundee Rep and see Witness for the Prosecution very soon.
Witness for the Prosecution is on at the Dundee Rep until Saturday the 19th of March. For further information and to book tickets, visit their website: www.dundeerep.co.uk