‘Signifying Nothing’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by November 16, 2016

‘Signifying Nothing’ is an ingenious concept, from playwright and stand-up comedian, Greg Fleet. He has blended the dark ‘Macbeth’ tale, with the vibrant life of a WA politician.

The last Hammond Fleet Production was the sell-out season of ‘These Things Happen’ that won the ‘Best Theatre’ award at the Adelaide Fringe.

This joint Blue Room Theatre and Hammond Fleet Production can be seen at the Blue Room main theatre, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge nightly at 7.00 pm until Saturday 3rd December.

A 60 cms dais is central stage; crowned with a beautifully Manchestered, double bed. The bedhead has drapes up to the ceiling. This muslin acts as a screen for superbly filmed and acted AV – set design by Joe Lui. The soundscape and video are the work of Joe Leach. Kennah Parker is the Stage Manager.

       It is early morning, Paul Macbeth (Greg Fleet) awakes and cuddles his wife Lainey (Nicola Bartlett). After a personal tragedy, could this special day breathe new life into the Macbeths? It is Election Day in Cannington, and the Liberal candidate, Paul Macbeth is hopeful of winning the seat. However, in his sleep he dreamt of three crony constituents (Sarah McNeill, Summer Williams, Russya Connor) who tell him that he will become Thane of Cannington, Thane of Claremont and King hereafter – but with a few limitations, including ‘until lions crawl the street of Perth’.

      ‘Mac’ is a charismatic person but with a shortage of brain cells. On the other hand, Lainey is an ambitious and powerful manipulator. They watch Dennis Commeti (Matt Dyktynski) on TV as he passes to the live reporter, Caitlyn Beresford-Ord in Cannington for a vox pop. A magician (Matt Penny) is trying to work his election wizardry, but a snarling, venom spitting woman (Kate Keady) states her disgust at Macbeth and the whole election.

      Soon the WA State Premiere (Shaun Micallef) is congratulating Macbeth on his success, not realising that Lainey has a devilish scheme to push her husband’s career further. The congratulatory TV interview turns sour when the reporter (Roz Hammond) asks a few pertinent questions. Even Macbeth’s best friend, Banquo (Luke Hewitt) has doubts about Mac and Lainey’s tactics.

      What has the future in store for the Macbeths?

 

The show is a two-hander, with all of the other characters appearing on the screen. Some of WA’s top actors present these multi-media, cameo performances, at times very funny, then extremely dark.

Joe Leach’s soundscape had a few masterful touches, such as the sound of a massive storm breaking when a certain email is sent. By using a wide angled lens, Joe has created a slightly distorted appearance to the facial features, adding an extra depth of menacing, especially to the ghost scenes. Joe Lui’s lighting was warm and dim.

Normally the public suspect some of the dirty tricks that take place behind the scenes, but after Donald Trump bringing the dirt to the surface, this wonderful play brings plenty of smiles, chortles and gasps.

Greg Fleet has presented us with a script that blends action, several hundred years apart that is high drama whilst presenting the farce that is politics today. The dialogue is contemporary, although the many appropriate Shakespearean quotes make one think how current the Bard’s stories still are.

Greg presented the character of the arrogant, incompetent politician perfectly. Nicola Bartlett was amazing as the ambitious wife, who starts as a caring partner and gradually melds into a schizophrenic megalomaniac, and finally becoming a pathetically, sad case.

Both actors gave rich and powerful performances.

It is always good to see theatre with something new, clever and brilliantly presented. Loved it.