Shakespeare Demystified: MacBeth

I had the opportunity to see “MacBeth” performed in the accessible and always enjoyable stylings of the KL Shakespeare Players’ Series Shakespeare Demystified. This troupe brings Shakespeare to life for the modern audience by engaging the viewers by interspersing backstory and context into the original language of the Bard. It’s a terrific way to make these plays enjoyable and accessible to a modern audience who may not be too fond of the archaic and enigmatic ways of Shakespeare verse. I’ve seen many of their shows over the years including last year’s The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and my favorite The Merry Wives of Windsor. Once again, the troupe did not disappoint. They gave a spirited and engaging performance with minimal props and lighting changes. They did include wonderful live sound effects courtesy a troupe member on the bongo drum adding some wonderful sensory rhythms and effects to the experience.

The show began a little “thick” and slow as we tried to figure out who this MacBeth character was. Was he a hero as they tried to portray him? His heroic nature seemed a little overshadowed in this production, most likely because of time, making him seem less a tragic figure and more a villain, or perhaps a pawn of his evil wife.

But all of this mattered not because of the terrific chemistry between actors and the high energy performances which demanded justice for MacBeth’s treachery. And yes, he received it.

I’m a big fan of seeing Shakespeare live, and the KL Shakespeare Players’ once again provided a gripping and thrilling evening of theatre which I cannot recommend enough. They put a lot of work into this production, so at least you can do is spare a little of your cash for a great night of entertainment.

The run at penangpac finished yesterday, but they head to Kuala Lumpur to be featured at KLPAC so do make your way to support this superb show!

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Review: Shakespeare Demystified – The Merchant of Venice (2016)

I was able to catch the KL Shakespeare Players with their new version of Shakespeare Demystified “The Merchant of Venice” on opening night at the Penang Performing Arts Centre. I’m very glad I did.

shakespeare demystified

Here they are after all the applause, before their post-show Q & A.

The show itself is in ingenious romp through the heart of the “Merchant of Venice” – demystifying it for the audience with pertinent, pre-scene narration which gives everyone a “heads-up” about what’s about to come. It’s a great way to watch Shakespeare – short, interesting spurts.

The acting was great, with Ivan Chan stealing the show in many scenes, playing Antonio and a host of other interesting characters with great vigor and physicality as proven by the amount of sweat he left on the floor.

But it wasn’t just Chan who shined. All of the acting was lively and humorous, and parts of it downright unexpected. I appreciated the Christian-Jew separation as defined by the Shakespeare era. It was enlightening to see how ┬áthe culture and religion clashes of yesteryear are, perhaps, not so different from those of today. Lim Soon Heng played a wonderfully rounded Shylock, and Lim Kien Lee’s direction provided the audience with a tight script and focused performance. I also enjoyed Lee’s decision for Shylock to wear a big, hideous mask, with massive stereotypical nose until he gives his famous speech about being no different from anyone else. It was a great symbolic reminder of how stereotypes serve no one but the enablers of racial discord.

“The Merchant of Venice” is playing all weekend at Penangpac before heading to Kuala Lumpur next week to continue its run. I highly recommend you run out and see it.

KL Shakespeare Players

Tickets via Penangpac