Prospectus Theatre

A Wiccan Macbeth

by Jane Penistan

S.Siobhan McCarthy, the director of this production of Shakespeare's Macbeth states in her programme introduction that she wants to emphasize the influence of female supernatural power. The witches are on stage almost throughout the play, acted by attractive young women. There is no question that they are very feminine, despite Banquo's query as to their age and sex.

As other members of the cast, these actors also play other roles. The stage facillities at the SPEC building are limited and S.Siobhan McCarthy uses the stage space economically. A plain black backdrop centred by a scarlet panel and little furniture leave as much room as possible for the movement of actors.

By being dressed in black cloaks the witches are able to fade into the background while they remain on stage. The use of masks, kept handily suspended on the back drop, facilitate the quick changes of character for those witches doubling other parts.

Lisa Young's costume design clearly defines individuals. While she uses the plaid correctly as the origin of the kilt and plaid, it is a pity that she uses highly coloured, modern tartan material, instead of muted hues of natural dyes with coarse homespun. Her use of cloaks is effective for the most part, and assists the actors who have to do quick changes of costume.

Bill MacDonald, as Macbeth, leads the company. His speech is clear, as is his interpretation of the text and he acts with conviction. He speaks to and reacts with the other players on stage. Unfortunately, not all the actors reciprocate.

In the dual roles of Lady Macbeth and Hecate, Lisa Jayne Stewart is less successful. She has a demanding assignment for an inexperienced actress.

In the limited space of the SPEC theatre scene changes are effected neatly with as little interruption of the action of the play as possible, but there are some long dark pauses. The advantage of the small space is that actors do not have to use loud voices to be heard.

Macbeth's quiet soliloquys and his secretive instructions to the murderers are audible to the audience and so are Malcolm and Donalbain as they plan their escape from Inverness. It is a relief to hear unforced speech.

A Wiccan Macbeth runs from February 4 to 27, Friday to Sunday at 8:00pm. Tickets: $12 concession , $14 general. SPEC Building. 2150 Maple Street. Group discounts, Matinees, call 623-2011.