THEATRE REVIEW: Macbeth at the Royal Botanic Gardens
Words by Sarah O’Neill
Of course you can never go wrong with seeing Shakespeare on the stage, but seeing Macbeth in the park under the stars, amongst native Australian trees and city lights is such an iconic experience for any Melbournite
Arriving at the Royal Botanical Gardens, we were greeted by the kindest staff who also happened to be some of the actors starring that night. Straight away the atmosphere was thrilling and fanciful.
Seating is provided if you so wish but you can bring a picnic blanket or seats to set up your night under the stars. You’re free to bring food and drinks which is fantastic but in case you want to treat yourself to snacks or beverages, there are some delicious options on-site for you to sample.
I’ve seen Shakespeare in the Park in London and I’m delighted to say The Australian Shakespeare Company was just as grand and gave me déjà vu of being in Europe with such high-quality acting, lighting, sound design, all brilliantly directed by Glenn Elston.
Even if Shakespeare isn’t usually your cup of tea, I would highly recommend broadening your horizons and seeing this production in the park as the atmosphere is truly electric. Magical, enthralling, and dazzling I felt like I was right there in 11th century Scotland when watching the actors portray this dark and twisted story.
As powerful and timeless as Shakespeare’s stories are, the actors are the mechanism in which to bring these stories back to life and this cast did not disappoint. Stand out performances from Alison Whyte (Lady Macbeth), Hugh Sexton (Macbeth), and Syd Brisbane (Macduff). I was in awe and fascination watching the play, almost forgetting I was in the Royal Botanical Gardens until some bats flew above us which just added to the atmosphere and electricity in the audience.
Macbeth is a wistful and everlasting tale that all can enjoy. With universal themes of love, destruction, war, and ghosts of the past. You will be at the edge of your seat watching this story play out. With extraordinary fight choreography, costumes, and props, the Australian Shakespeare Company has succeeded once again in entertaining the people of Melbourne with luminous and vivid outdoor theatre.
I would unquestionably recommend this experience and I don’t think you’ve truly lived the life of a Melbournite until you’ve seen Shakespeare under the stars in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Macbeth at the Royal Botantic Gardens ends on 6 March but shows for their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been extended to 28 March
Sarah spoke to Claire Duncan who plays Macduff’s child in the performance. Listen to it here: