Tag: MTC

Tricky Dicky

Thanks to an erudite correspondent who provided the following commentary on the MTC’s latest foray into Shakespeare which, needless to say, had to follow the fashion and be transported into another time and fashion:

A stylish modern performance of Richard III. All stops were out to create a striking event. Tension was maintained throughout at a pitch that had total audience attention for a play which is often taken at a solemn pace. Where action made clear the meaning, Shakespeare’s lines were not always heard word for word. This did not matter. Movement, nod, smile, backward glance, said it all. But in lyrical highpoint speeches, diction and emotion flowed together in the rhythm of familiar iambic pentameters and the audience was moved.
The play did not follow Shakespeare’s script to the letter. I noted cuts and scene alterations but nothing of the drama and point of the play was lost. In fact, both were sharpened. And one could not help noticing similarities in the way political persons unscrupulously plot, scheme, twist, turn and turn their coats today. Lighting was cleverly themed to the emotion or drama of the
scene; sound struck, clashed and soared where necessary to anchor an act or underlie doom or celebration (of which there was little, of course).
The sharpwitted manipulative, narcissistic duke/king who demolished without scruple any he deemed an obstacle to his rise, was excellently played by Ewen Leslie. Alison Whyte as Elizabeth and Deidre Rubenstein as Duchess of York were memorable for strenghth of portrayal, clarity and credibility. Zahra Newman in the small part of Catesby impressed.
The spin of the revolving sets was fittingly symbolic of the course chosen by Richard for his aggrandisement but which ironically wound him into a tight spot. Director Simon Phillips deserves many gold medals.

A frothy fizzer

Who planted the explosive device in the loungeroom of political consultant Busby McTavish’s home? That is the intriguing and possibly exciting premise upon which the MTC‘s latest offering, The Grenade, is based. Little more than two hours later we are none the wiser … and really don’t care. In between we have been treated by playwright Tony McNamara to a frequent but haphazard sprinkling of witty one-liners and aphorisms that seem more designed to show off Garry McDonald‘s impeccable comic timing than to further such plot lines as may exist in a story that has as many unconnected threads as a mad woman’s knitting. McDonald is surrounded by the zaniest collection of characters gathered on the local stage for many a long while. They froth, fume and fornicate in a frenzy of wordplay delivered with excellent timing and pace on a revolving set that opens many windows into the McTavish home and its inhabitants. The show is notable for the excellent performances of several young newcomers to the MTC stage; Belinda Bromilow, Gig Clarke, Jolyon James and Eloise Mignon are never outshone by stalwarts Mitchell Butel and Genevieve Picot. It’s a nonsense night with lots of laughs but little meaning. Maybe it is significant that the hand grenade that provides such an dramatic opening never even did so much as fizz.