REVIEW: Shakespeare in The Park—Macbeth

Combine the night breeze, IndoChine’s delectable dinner sets, and the freedom to bring your own wine with no corkage charge and you’ll see just a few reasons why the Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park production is so successful that it’s into its fourth run.
You know the classic plot: Macbeth (Adrian Pang) and Banquo (William Landsman) return from war with the traitorous Thane of Cawdor, bumping into the Three Witches who tell Macbeth three things: He will become Thane of Cawdor then King of Scotland, but the throne will belong to Banquo’s son. Insatiable is Macbeth’s appetite for status, so Lady Macbeth (Patricia Toh) murders King Duncan (William Ledbetter), leaving his guards as scapegoats. Upon Duncan’s death, his sons Malcolm (Kaeng Chan) and Donalbain (Bright Ong) flee and Macbeth successfully usurps the throne. While Macduff (Daniel Jenkins) plans revenge, Macbeth seeks the Three Witches who prophesy further: Be wary of Macduff; anyone born of woman cannot harm Macbeth; Macbeth will not be defeated till Birnam Forest becomes Dunsinane Hill. Because the witches speak in double meaning, Macbeth’s reign eventually sees its demise.
This remake of Macbeth sticks rather strictly to the original script, with a twist; picture actors clad in modern-day togs (think suits and leather jackets) speaking in old English tongues. Coupled with the use of quirky props, such as camera phones and target boards with Banquo’s face on them, it highlights themes of cowardice and the voraciousness of human nature, regardless of how society has improved.
The props crew’s effort to get all they can out of the open-air set is truly commendable. For one metal structure to symbolize so many things in one play is certainly a challenge but the producers have trumped that in their attempt to create a set-up that matches the standard of indoor theater backdrops.
Seemingly inspired by the Joker in The Dark Knight, the Three Witches makeup complements nicely the roles of these characters in the play. We daresay the malevolence and spookiness of them are portrayed just the way Shakespeare would have liked.
And then there is the acting. We couldn’t take our eyes off Adrian Pang, William Landsman and William Ledbetter Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE table.MsoNormalTable { line-height: 115%; font-size: 11pt; font-family: “Calibri”,”sans-serif”; } —each expression conveying the right feelings with just the right intensity; each movement reflecting clearly the actors’ thoughts. The First Witch (Dayah Rahim), who worked the intermission so well, won our hearts as she crept and crawled and scorned at the audience, successfully setting the mood for the following scene.
Highly recommended.