Where: Playhouse, Arts Centre, St Kilda Road, Melbourne
When: June 7-23
Call: 1300 182 183
DAN Spielman wasn’t superstitious and thought nothing of uttering the name of Shakespeare’s infamously cursed Scottish play before opening night. These days he’s a little more spooked after a trail of disaster dogged Macbeth’s opening in Sydney.
Playing the eponymous lead, Spielman, who also appears in Offspring, and three fellow cast members were felled by a violent bout of food poisoning, cancelling preview shows and delaying opening night. Then the speaker system failed, toilets blocked and both the stage manager and Kate Mulvaney’s Lady Macbeth (who’ll appear in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby) fell ill, too.
“I think I must have spent all my curses by now,” Spielman says, tempting fate again. He’s a brave man indeed, tackling one of the Bard’s most rigorous roles; one that challenged him physically and mentally. The five-week rehearsal saw him tackle three hours of physical training daily, one and a half hours of swordplay and then more than three hours working on the play itself. To throw himself into it hands-free, he learned the entire script before rehearsals began.
“All the ego goes out the window in the first couple of days when you’re sweating in each other’s armpits, rolling all over each other,” he confesses. Director Peter Evans and Spielman agreed they wanted to discover as fresh a response to the well-worn script as possible, avoiding the knowledge of Lady Macbeth as a barren manipulator.
“There’s evidence of a kind of grief that drives Lady M, which is about having lost a child,” Spielman says.
“We found a relationship that’s co-dependent. They’re in an extreme state, and there are ways they help, hurt and use one another, propelled by heightened desire and ambition.
“Macbeth is distinguished from a classical villain with the wonderful equivocation, the way in which he shares his transgressions and visions with the audience through his soliloquies. He’s a poet.”