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Adelaide Fringe 2014

Bewitching Macbeth

Leofric Kingsford-Smith & Shakti

Genre: Mainstream Theatre

Venue: The Garage International at Town Hall – 128 King William Street, Adelaide


Low Down

For those unfamiliar with The Scottish Play this performance is simply a mesmerising swirl of black, red and gold with lines from the play narrated arbitrarily. For those well-versed, or at least familiar with the story this is a fascinating insight into the mind of one of Shakespeare’s well-known characters, and a unique interpretation of a tragedy that has been altered to express Macbeth’s descent into madness. 


The show begins with a galloping beat and a voice-over narrating the opening lines of Macbeth. Leof Kingsford-Smith, playing the title role, appears on stage with a dagger through his heart. He is joined by Shakti, an exotic creature decked out in black satin, gold sequins with thin strands of red ribbon in her hair—she is wearing a mask and represents the Three Witches in the play. As Macbeth voices his inner thoughts the Witch twirls and stamps her feet loudly bringing to life through movement and facial expression Shakespeare’s words. She smiles coyly, smirks and seduces Macbeth into the prophecy—she taunts him and tempts him with the idea that he could be King.


When she removes her mask she becomes his inner psyche, always there beside him dancing and moving fluidly to his dark thoughts. She represents everything that is sinister and dangerous about Macbeth, including the spirit of Lady Macbeth. Shakti transcends effortlessly into an ethereal angel when Macbeth finds out his lady has died—she is light and joy, a stark contrast to his grief and depressing. This is one of those hypnotic scenes where the music and movement work in harmony to create a sense of peace; however, this only lasts a few moments as the audience knows there are more nefarious acts to come.


The music that accompanies the performance is an eclectic selection of haunting gypsy tunes, oriental strains, and tribal beats. Only twice does the music contain familiar Western songs, which is slightly disconcerting, but all of the music provides context and adds to the ambiance. At times it contrasts heavily to Macbeth’s emotions and brings forward an underlying event or story. The stage is a simple set up with bare lights, a tree stump and a few coloured materials artfully placed around the rostrum as part of Shakti’s choreography.


The interaction between Macbeth’s character and his innermost thoughts is compelling—Kingsford-Smith is brilliant in his role as he brings the character to life and showcases his vulnerability and darkness. He cleverly brings out Macbeth’s ego by narrating carefully chosen lines from the play from all of the key characters and enacting the inner turmoil of his mind. This is a performance that fans of The Scottish Play and Shakespeare would enjoy as it provides a fresh perspective on this captivating character.