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Print Version

NZ Fringe Festival 2013
JEALOUSY AND GREED the story of Alistair Macbeth
Writer/Director: Katherine Fuller
presented by Morepork Theatre Company

at Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington
From 20 Feb 2013 to 23 Feb 2013

Reviewed by Caoilinn Hughes, 21 Feb 2013

Jealousy and Greed: The Story of Alastair Macbeth is a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Written by a novice playwright, directed by the same newcomer, it is presented by a rookie cast in under 50 minutes.

For the witches-prophesying-Macbeth's-claim-to-the-throne, insert waitresses-prophesying-Macbeth's-claim-to-his-Dad's-department-store. For the ruinous psychological and political consequences, including civil war, of Macbeth's regicide and manslaughter in order to usurp the realm, insert Alastair Macbeth slapping his forehead, whining: “Why did I kill my father with a steak knife. It's all your fault. You told me to do it!” (his bitch-slapping wife, Ruth, that is).

Alastair's father's shop is being signed over to his brother-in-law, Robert (played by Jett Ranchhod, who is also, more successfully, the sound guy) and not the rightful heir because of some mysterious wrongdoing in Alastair's past. Alastair is mildly miffed by this, and is easily persuaded by his tyrant wife into committing various depravities to get what he kind of seems towant, but not really.

Alastair is played robotically but relatively professionally by James Atkinson; he does pull off a soliloquy on a barstool. Judy Connolly, playing Ruth, needsto enunciate.

In the end all descends into a gun-pointing ‘whodunnit-Idunnit-yesIdid', in the vein of Shakepeare's revered tragedy if that vein had been injected with some rather corrosive substances.

Writer/ Director Katherine Fuller writes: “The good thing about this play is you can still see all the main features of Macbeth. The difference is you don't have to decode all the difficult language to appreciate what is going on.” However, the “main features” of Macbeth have been grotesquely distorted and simplified in this play, and the audience does still have to decode its language, as the performers race through their lines, often delivering them to the wings.

This performance could easily be transposed into a comedic, fast-paced farce, and it might work in that genre if the physicality was improved. Having said that, to suggest a play which was inspired by Shakespeare's most powerful tragedy might work as a farce is a problem in its own right.

Ultimately, trying to get across any kind of emotional authenticity, relate-ability, complexity of character or narrative arc when each scene change is longer than each scene is an impossible feat.  
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