The Scottish play may be surrounded by superstition but SUDS (Stirling University Drama Society) certainly faced no bad luck with their rendition of Macbeth.
At the Macrobert Main Theatre on April 5, SUDS took to the stage for their second and final performance of Macbeth. Their vast, mostly novice cast performed on the big stage, the first time SUDS had done so in years. It was a brave decision to upscale, but it was one that paid off.
Directors Melissa Malcolm and Shani Doudet were both new to their roles but they controlled, planned, and executed the show wonderfully. It’s hard to believe they were both beginners with how well they pulled off this large production.
The dramatic lighting and minimal practical and sound effects were beautifully utilised to aid rather than control the narrative. It helped any in the audience unfamiliar with the Shakespearean language to follow the plot and understand the tone.
Eilidh Brown as the Messenger was perhaps the character the audience loved the most. Referred to as Sirrah, the name in the original text, the similarity to ‘Sarah’ was wonderfully utilised. There was an unusual directorial decision to modernise the character.
Strutting in with her silver heels, tiny black dress and New Jersey accent, she delivered her dialogue in a way that had the audience laughing aloud. Her modern dialect helped the audience follow the plot, but it was also just a silly bit of fun.
Seeing her interact with the characters, offering them cheap wine, cigarettes, and sex, didn’t even hinder the intensity of the play. It just piqued the interest of the audience and added something unique. Collectively, it’s safe to say the audience missed her whenever she walked off.
Similarly to Brown’s character, the Witches (Richard Porter, Desra Dervin, Gwendolyn Golt) were a novelty performance. Their absolute commitment to the wonderfully bizarre voices and movement immersed the audience in this world from the very first scene. Like Sirrah, every time they left the stage, we were hopeful to see them back again.
Lucie Muller (Lady Macbeth) was a standout throughout the play. Her character’s descent into madness was simultaneously the peak of her performance as an actor. Her tearful and impassioned speech as she succumbed to her guilt was as harrowing and upsetting as it was mesmerising.
Emmanuele Vaudano delivered a fantastic performance in all four of his roles: King Duncan, Murderer, Doctor and Old Seyward. Each time he appeared, it took a moment to realise it was, once again, Vaudano.
He morphed into his characters, visually and audibly, with extreme talent. His skill allowed the audience to stay immersed in the play, immediately understanding what character he was currently portraying. It was truly impressive.
Ami Hume’s performance as Macduff, namely the scene where Macduff learns of his family’s slaughter, was beautiful. Hume’s portrayal of Macduff’s mourning and hatred created tangible emotion in the air. The crowd was increasingly captivated by their every movement and expression. It made the final standoff with Macbeth all the more suspenseful.
And, of course, Macbeth, played by Oliver O’Hare, was a picture-perfect casting choice. His chivalry and nobility slowly twisting into guilt and sorrow were shown with sobering honesty. In the scene where he has hallucinations around the dinner table, his rage and fear transparently showed the intense torment he was plagued with. It was a skilful, captivating and true representation of Macbeth.
A job well done
Truth be told, it was hard to refrain from listing all the cast and singing everyone’s praises. As a collective, they performed excellently. The backstage crew was essential in delivering this, as well as the flawless direction from Malcolm and Doudet.
Having seen several SUDS performances, this has to be their best to date. Whilst their next play will be a new venture, there is no doubt that the society is only on the incline.
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Feature image credit: Paul Cowie
Journalism and English Studies student with an interest in film & tv, music, and politics.
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