It’s the Scottish play in Scotland, but also in New York, and in the 80’s – not to mention in the round. There is so much to talk about in BoxedIn Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which went up this week in the StAge. It was, in short, a treat. The performances were captivating without exception: Lydia Seed was thrilling to watch, and left me furious with Shakespeare for not putting Lady Macbeth onstage twice as often as she is. Bailey Fear was exquisitely unbalanced as Macbeth, and he and Seed radiated the toxic, irresistible chemistry which fuels the tragedy from beginning to end. The characters in this play are complicated, and these nuances shone through across the board: the strength and raw emotion of Macduff (Molly Williams); the reluctant, inexplicable charisma of Malcolm (Xavier Atkins); the genuine good nature of Banquo (Henry Roberts), which seems to mark him for death from the start. Ana Fati, Naphysa Awuah, and Cameron Chavers deserve special mention as the witches – evil has never looked so fun.
In a dramatic departure from last year’s Death of a Salesman, this semester Caelan Mitchell-Bennett has teamed up with Just So to bring us Sondheim’s classic fairy-tale musical, Into the Woods. It’s a challenging show to take on, made up of interweaving plotlines (some more relevant than others) and two very disparate halves. It’s a credit to Mitchell-Bennett’s talent and versatility, and that of his team, that they pulled off such a greatly enjoyable performance.
“We are what we always were in Salem…”
When you take on a play as famous and beloved as Oscar Wilde’s wonderful comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, you are setting yourself up for a challenge. While the writing can almost carry a production by itself, the actors are competing against Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Judi Dench and Reese Witherspoon in many imaginations, and perhaps David Suchet-in-drag in others. Add to this the fact that the StAge is just not a good space for theatre (at least not when used conventionally), and this production team were giving themselves a very difficult task. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one they could meet.
With St Andrews arguably the most diverse it’s ever been in terms of theatre, it’s rare to see something new. That said, Getting Even is the first play that I can think of that actively incorporates audience interactivity to go up here. As a mesh of an entertaining, hour long experience with simple decision-making, it does just enough to keep you on the hook for the full hour.
It is surprisingly rare that Mermaids stages a true comedy in St Andrews, and this production of Patrick Barlow’s play is certainly that. The play has a strange history, as a farce based on an Alfred Hitchcock movie, itself based on an early thriller novel. Even from the promotional images, it was clear this production would be self-aware, revelling in its meta elements and the broad pastiche of a genre well known for being chock full of clichés.
I can’t say I really understand the resurgence of Agatha Christie, but she is coming back in a powerful fashion. Modern adaptations are trying to balance the camp of the older works with a darker, more realistic tone, and Rowan Wishart’s interpretation of And Then There Were None is a perfect example of this. It kept an even hand of fun and dark and managed to make a compelling, thrilling mystery out of an 80-year-old story. But there were technical inconsistencies throughout that kept it from being quite as exactly tuned as it could have been.
Student writing and science fiction are two things which are often underrepresented in St Andrews. A student-written science fiction show? Now that’s something we really don’t get a lot of.
Hedda Gabler is a very hard play to get right. Henrik Ibsen’s late play is about a recently married woman (the titular Hedda) who proceeds to destroy the lives of almost everyone around her for no other apparent reason than she is “bored.” This is where the difficulty comes in: if the tone of the play is misjudged, Hedda (here played by Misha Leggett) can seem like a petulant psychopath, while the play’s other characters come across as stupid. This production had a difficult job to do and it delivered.
Nick Payne’s Constellations goes up in the Stage this week, so I sat down with director Al Gillespie and actors Kate Kitchens (Marianne) and Jared Liebmiller (Roland) to chat about the show.