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Saturday, July 11, 2015


Tackling “Macbeth” superstitions head-on. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Blunt Productions is a pro-active production company offering theatre opportunities for up and coming performers. Well-worth supporting, so far they have produced Born from a Boombox and, earlier this year, Decadence.

Their latest production, Murder on Mondays, deals with the superstitions attached to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It is a long-held belief among many theatre practitioners that the play is cursed – to the extent that its name is often not mentioned but replaced with the term “The Scottish Play.”

While I don’t hold with superstition unless it has a practical base – like walking under ladders! – a production I was in coincided with a fall my mother had the day before my folks drove to Durban to attend opening night. This fall resulted in complications which led to her death so I do treat the play with a certain amount of wariness.

Writer Mikhale Singh has tacked these myths and superstitions head-on and created a script “exploring the darker side of striving for success, as well as takes a very real look at the state of theatre in Durban (and South Africa) by showing the audience just how hard it is to try and succeed, let alone make a living, in the theatre business”.

Murder on Mondays sees a cash-strapped theatre company putting on a production of Macbeth. The director – a bit too fashionably dressed for realism – and her assistant (Nqobile Mahlambi and Shannon Newton) are faced with an alarming problem. They are uncomfortably close to opening night and in the six weeks of rehearsal, six actors have died of mysterious circumstances. All on Mondays.

The cast is made up of diverse characters – there’s Lady Macbeth (Chante Seller); Duncan (Lindo Cele), Macbeth (Jason Pietersen); Mthoko Ntshingila (Banquo), and the three witches (Madison Lemos, Zoë Walsh and Amy Wright). Added to this is a replacement assistant (Zanele Sibiya). Then there’s an inspector (Byron McNeil) who is determined to find the Monday murderer/s and his feisty assistant officer (Shannon Rose).

Director Preven Reddy has the challenge of manipulating the cast of 12 with varying levels of expertise on a stage the size of Seabrooke’s. Adding to the complications is a split acting area, with one section devoted to the director’s office – a busy, cluttered space – while the other represents the rehearsal area which is bare, apart from a few blocks.

This project is certainly worth developing and Singh’s script has many amusing moments – such as Lindo Cele’s response to an accusation of murder: “I’m gay. The only thing I could murder is a chocolate-coated croissant!”  Unfortunately, dialogue was often lost due to lack of projection or unclear articulation. The supportive audience took to applauding each change of scene which tended to disrupt the flow.

Produced by Saná Siddiqi and Mikhale Singh, Murder on Mondays runs until July 18 at Seabrooke’s Theatre on the Durban High School (DHS) campus at 277 St. Thomas Road, Musgrave. Tickets R100 and seating is unreserved. Tickets available online and in selected stores from Webtickets. – Caroline Smart