Monday, May 16, 2011

Out, Damned Spot!

In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
I am by no means a culture vulture, but I do get curious about certain arts productions from time to time when they look interesting or are about something I actually DO know about!  Tonight, I attended my first 'Shakespeare in the Park' performance - Macbeth.  About twelve years ago, I had to eat, sleep and breathe Macbeth.  If you had taken English Literature for your 'O' Levels, you'd know what I'm talking about!  But admittedly, I did not care much for Macbeth back then.  In fact, other than a few choice quotes and the 3 witches' scenes, I couldn't remember most of the plot before the play tonight... but glad to know I wasn't the only one - my party also had fuzzy memories of that navy blue book we had to dissect eons ago... Nevertheless, Macbeth in the Park was a really enjoyable experience, and I highly recommend it! Unfortunately, at the time of this writing the play only runs for 6 more days (till the 22nd of May 2011) so if by some sheer fortune you happen to stumble upon this post before then, hurry over to the Sistic website to book yourself some tickets for a performance!  You won't regret it!

Background Information
Produced by The Singapore Repertory Theatre (non-profit) and presented by Transtec, Macbeth in the Park is part of The Audi Classics Series 2011.  Previous 'Shakespeare in the Park' runs in Singapore were 'A Midsummer's Night Dream' (2009) and 'Much Ado About Nothing' (2007).  Looking at the timeline, it seems like this performance is only held once every two years?  Well, I'm glad I went for Macbeth this round, and hope that the next one would be perhaps Romeo & Juliet? :D

Plot Summary
If you've done something against your conscience, it WILL eat you alive slowly but surely.  Death imminently follows...

Front: Witch, Patricia Toh (Lady Macbeth), Adrian Pang (Macbeth)

The Cast
Directed by Nikolai Foster, the cast is led by Adrian Pang as Macbeth, and Patricia Toh as Lady Macbeth. Whilst Adrian Pang gave an excellent performance as Macbeth displaying his versatility and linguistic prowess, Lady Macbeth failed to mirror her hubby's standards.  I do applaud Pat's effort put into memorizing those oh-so-lengthy soliloquies, but somehow I think her mixed accents of British English and Singlish kind of killed the delivery of her performance.  I'm no qualified arts critic, but I think I'm able to recognize a good performance when it hits me.. and sadly Pat's rendition of Lady Macbeth just didn't cut it for me.  Going on to the supporting cast members, I think they did a good job filling the shoes of their characters.  William Landsman (Banquo) was as entertaining alive as he was as a ghost, and Daniel Jenkins (McDuff) put up a good fight at the end. Special mentions to the ladies who played the 3 witches - they must have been melting under their full-faced make-up and elaborate costumes in our horribly humid weather but they were cackly, loud, mysterious and creepy, bringing a sort of energy to the play.  The brief appearance by Andy Tear as the Porter also helped to lighten the dark theme of the performance, and was quite a humorous one at that.

The Setting
The play is held in the open ground area in front of Fort Canning Centre (see 'How to Get There' below) and is also in the vicinity of the Colonial Christian Cemetery.  With large, tall trees flanking the side of the stage, and the dusk sky overhead, there is a naturally eerie feel about the whole place - an almost perfect complement to the dark plot behind Macbeth.  Even though it was a rather humid night, the occasional boughts of wind grazing across your skin and accompanied by the gentle rustling of leaves in the trees overhead was good enough to up the chill factor. ;)  The grassy area surrounding the stage area is also a gentle sloping one, so no worries about not being able to see the stage even if you are seated at the back - you're actually higher up the slope.

Being in an open park setting, this also means you have to bring your own seating - picnic mats and ground sheets are most commonly seen, but we did see someone with small field chairs and an All Terrain Wagon which doubled up as their dinner table.  Apart from the humble picnic baskets, also spotted were bigass camping boxes, "pails" of food/drink and one group of folk looked like they brought their whole kitchen shy of the kitchen sink... Like, seriously? -_-"  Also heard as we were about the leave the grounds, the unmistakable sound of glass shattering against the ground... I guess they had a drop of wine too much... Hope they do not start prohibiting the audience from BYOB, 'cos I'm soooo bringing a nice chilled bottle along the next time!

Macbeth in the Park @ Fort Canning, Singapore
The Stage
A simple double-storey stage set which had simple but visually effective transitions, the stage was joined to a long runway spanning the entire length of the audience seating area, effectively dividing the area into 2 sections.  The runway also served as part of the stage setup, and certain entrances were made via the runway,  bringing the performance closer to the audiences further away from the main stage.  I thought this was quite a nice touch, really.

Fun & Nonsense
Did anyone else think Adrian Pang's hoodie costume resembled that of the hunter in Left 4 Dead??!  Even the colour scheme seemed similar!! I couldn't help thinking it, especially when he crouched down on all fours with his hood up in a scene.. Heh.

What's the purpose of including the bicycle and the modern-day clothing here and there?  I didn't quite get the significance and found it a bit distracting.. Would be nice if anyone could enlighten me here. :)  Leave your comments!

Ticketing Information
Availability:  Sistic Website or Sistic Counters
Dates:  28 Apr - 22 May 2011
Showtime:  7.30pm - 10.15pm (15min interval)
Price:  SGD 38 - SGD 80 (Starhub customers 10% off, see Sistic Website for more discounts).
Venue:  Fort Canning Park

How to get there:  Nearest MRT is Dhoby Ghaut MRT.  Exit to Park Mall.  Enter Park Mall, and take the elevator/lift up to the 4th floor (carpark).  Walk towards your left once you exit the lift, and exit at the carpark entrance/exit barriers.  Cross the road and walk towards your left again.  Keep walking 'till you hit a flight of stairs on your right.  You can either walk up this flight of stairs, OR keep walking straight up the slope.  Both ways lead to the same area and you should find the Gothic Gate in sight!  (Estimated time for this walk: 10 minutes.)

Fort Canning map:
Posted by dawn.wong on 5/16/2011 05:26:00 AM in , , , ,