Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Macbeth @ Girls School
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Attending a show at Girls School is a slightly different experience to a typical theatre outing. A large portion of the heritage site has been utilised for Fringe World 2021, with the outdoor area featuring a box office, a bar, food trucks and a large social space; plus many of the school’s classrooms and other areas have been repurposed as performance spaces.
For this particular show, the audience was ushered through the school by Fringe staff to a small library on the first floor: a long, rectangular room perfectly suited for the performing arts. Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Macbeth is a distinctly lo-fi production, taking a minimalist approach to things like set, lighting, and sound design, in favour of drawing the audience’s attention to a whip-smart, hilarious script, and five performers who are operating at 100% from start to finish.
This is the sixth Perth Fringe to see a show from Bogan Shakespeare Productions, a company that creates parody retellings of Shakespeare’s works, specifically setting them in bogan Australia. This retelling of Macbeth has it take place in modern day Ellenbrook, as Macbeth sets his sights on becoming president of the Cricket Club by any means necessary.
Dean Lovatt’s reimagining of the story is the true triumph of this show. It expertly pulls the original text into the present day, keeping the core themes and narrative intact, while also embracing a much more comedic tone. One of the most interesting choices in this reimagining was the one to directly acknowledge the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and making comedy out of it as well (thankfully it is handled in a tasteful and indeed funny way), with the conscious choice to make light out of the misinformation circulated about the pandemic in the earlier months of 2020.
The show is supported by a stellar cast. Harrison Mitchell puts on an idiotic but loveable portrayal of the leading man, with a surprising amount of emotional weight in later stages of the play. Meanwhile, Sarah Courtis fully embraces the more psychotic side of Lady Macbeth. Jess Lally, Maiken Kruger, and Dean Lovatt support the two leads: Lally primarily takes the role of the Witch, Kruger the role of Banquo, and Lovatt the role of the Narrator; however all three of these actors also assume a multitude of other colourful and entertaining roles throughout the show. Lally, Kruger, and Lovatt handle the task of juggling this broad set of characters excellently, making each equally memorable from the others, aided only by slight costume changes to make them visually distinct.
Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Macbeth is a gut-busting comedy that makes the most out of the Fringe setting to tell a tale that is wildly entertaining while also resonant in both place and time. While they have secured a sold-out season this year, you should absolutely be on the lookout for the next one.
Photos by David Cox