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Review: Signifying Nothing

Adelaide Fringe

Greg Fleet's Signifying Nothing is a modern version of Shakespeare's Macbeth, but instead of a Scottish general, Macbeth is a Liberal Party politician spurred on to greater heights – becoming premier – by his scheming wife. ★★★

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This production – which Fleet wrote, co-directs and stars in as central character Paul Macbeth – is a drama, not a political satire, and it follows the original storyline of the measures that ambitious folk are prepared to take to achieve their personal goals.

Nicola Bartlett plays Lainey Macbeth, a coke-snorting woman suffering from anxiety and the grief of losing her son when he was young. Other characters such as the Macbeths’ friend Banquo and the witches, played by recognisable TV actors, appear as video images.

The publicity describes Signifying Nothing as a “mash-up of the original Shakespeare text”, which is a fair description, although the juxtaposition of Shakespearean language and the Australian vernacular needs work to get the blend right.

Some of the modernised ideas work well – such as Macbeth bringing about the political death of his election rival, Premier Duncan, via a scandalous email. There is also  some fine acting in the show, but overall it would benefit from refining.

Signifying Nothing is not the Shakespeare play and not a modern adaptation; it lies somewhere in between and, like the Macbeths, is still searching for what it wants to achieve.

Three stars

Signifying Nothing is being presented by Hammond Fleet Productions at The Studio, Holden Street Theatres, until March 19.


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