Lady Macbeth is reviled as part of the villainous couple in Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish Play’, but why did she persuade Macbeth to go through with their bloody plan to take Scotland’s crown? Was she simply greedy & ambitious, or were there more sinister forces at work? Little Shakespeare Company proffers an explanation in their new play Hecate, written by Jay van Rensburg and running at Paradise in the Vault all this week.
Young Gruoch Ingen Boite is asleep in her room, when she receives an unexpected (and lifechanging) visitor: the goddess Hecate. The child is clearly scared at first, but Hecate does her best to ease her fears and charms Gruoch into trusting her – although her proclamations that courage, bravery & love are in Gruoch’s blood keep her slightly wary. However, things start to shift when a grown up Lady Macbeth is brought into the room, Gruoch telling her, “You’re the strangest woman I’ve ever met!” She’s in the throes of her madness, frantically trying to scrub the imagined blood from her hands. Will she realise who this woman is in time – or is it already too late to save her from her fate?
Despite the inconsiderately loud glass disposal going on outside, the Annexe is a good choice of venue for this play as it feels atmospheric and historical from the moment you walk in. Chris Allan’s set design lends it a slightly spooky edge on top of this.
In spinning it out for an hour it feels like they’ve slightly run out of material by the final 10-15 minutes, and end up going round & round in circles with both Hecate & Lady Macbeth trying to convince Gruoch that she should trust one and not the other. After building up a bit of drama it starts to lose traction and the end almost comes out of nowhere. It’s an interesting concept – as the question ‘where does evil come from?’ is something we can’t help but ask ourselves, and the case of the Macbeths is a good one to try and investigate that with. It just needs a little more refining to make it less repetitive.
Whilst director Michelle van Rensburg gives a spirited effort as Hecate, and Faye Turpie Laird is convincingly naïve as Gruoch, it’s Rachel Barr who impresses the most. I’d like to see her given the full chance to play Lady Macbeth some day, as she shows the beginnings of a brilliant portrayal of the character here.
My verdict? A good concept but it runs out of steam and starts to become repetitive – Rachel Barr is impressive as Lady Macbeth.
Hecate runs at Paradise in the Vault until 18 August 2018 (11.10am, 50 min). Tickets are available online or from the box office.