With just 14 rehearsals squeezed over three weeks, some which took part in the upstairs back room of the local Curly Coo bar, the Stirling University Drama Society have excelled themselves in tackling a time-honoured Shakespearean classic.
To master the intricate and lengthy monologues is no mean feat, and according to Macbeth, played by Calum Swan, it took several late night KFC stake-outs with the director, Julian Bates, to perfect his lines.
SUDS has never been the one to shy away from a theatrical challenge with their productions ranging from Arthur Miller to Agatha Christie. The Director told Brig that he decided on Macbeth this time round as he was thinking of how ‘best to involve as many people as possible’. With an 18 strong cast and an extensive behind the scenes team it was a vast production which was all the more commendable for it’s seamless coordination.
Thanks to varying points throughout our English education, most people are familiar with the plot of the bleak Shakespearean play, making it therefore more accessible to the general viewing public. With the plot already being established this leaves the floor open for actors to really breathe life into their characters with powerful performances that make their role stand out.
No truer is this statement than for the mesmerising Abigail Ferguson in her 3rd role with SUDS as Lady Macbeth. At first the true driving force behind the murderous plot as she spurs her husband on in his quest for power, Ferguson skilfully portrayed the manipulative and commanding wife.
The murders, however, ultimately consume Lady Macbeth with guilt and play havoc with her mind as she tries to literally and metaphorically wipe the blood from her hands in the ‘Out Damned Spot’ scene, which Ferguson revealed was her favourite speech of them all.
To acquire the look of an 11th century Scotsman the male cast bore Tartan sashes across their chests, which seemed to be a revamping of a common high street scarf, the simplicity of which worked well. Also a rather fetching fur rug to adorn the shoulders of King Duncan that Calum Swan divulged had come from another cast members home.
Another costume and make up triumph was that of the three witches played by Ainé Taylor, Tessa Richards and Eilidh Grubb. Their light and floaty shawls coupled with back-combed hair to precision and other-worldly green make up made for a spooky witch display. Similarly, the ghost of Banquo, played by Andrew Hart, who torments Macbeth, was a triumph in theatrical make up.
The head witch, Taylor, explained how she had truly enjoyed her role as ‘such a fun character to play’ and that she had learned her tricky lines by rhyming them melodically in her head.
An injection of humour came from the porter, played by Alexander Hendry , who spoke of the positive and negatives of alcohol; “Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes. It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.’
The area which I thought truly showed the dedication and practicalities put into the play was that of the sword fighting scenes. Perhaps as an avid fan of Game of Thrones I’ve become quite partial to a good sparring scene but the coordination and choreography envisioned by Rowan MacAskill, who also played MacDuff, had the audience on the edge of their seats.
The energy between two, three and sometimes four actors all simultaneously fighting was flawlessly designed to make the last few scenes even more powerful as Malcolm, played by Daniel Rooney, takes the place of rightful King of Scotland.
Again for SUDS, even with such a short time on their hands, they did not fail to deliver a superb night of theatrical mastery. As an audience member, you could truly appreciate the time and effort every member had put in to embody the well-known Shakespearean characters and the coordination from the behind the scenes team lead by Julian Bates and Ed Whitaker to pull together a truly superb piece of theatre.