The Curators and heartBeast Theatre have teamed up to present a double bill of Shakespeare performing at the Spring Hill Reservoir.
Impressively staged and well performed, fans of the The Bard should enjoy it immensely and newcomers may find some things familiar given Shakespeare’s impact on culture.
heartBeast Theatre kick things off with a rendering of ‘Julius Caesar’. Down in the old stonewall caverns of the reservoir, audience members are free to roam and follow the action how they wish with actors and lights appearing everywhere. The setting dark and labyrinth proves perfect for a story set in ancient times following a plot to murder. It’s almost as much fun to look around corners for would-be assailants but the performances prove too riveting.
The story of 'Julius Caesar' belongs not to the titular character but to Brutus and Brent Schon, giving him depth and revealing how tragic a figure he is. Often cast as a colourful side character, Schon proves his mettle in a dialled down, nuanced and ultimately sympathetic performance. He is ably matched by the ensemble including Chris Vaag nailing the famous “Romans lend me your ears” moment and Lisa Hickey gives a great turn as the manipulative Cassius.
The allusions to our times with mob mentality, manipulation of the truth in the press and narratives we create for ourselves are played up nicely. The lighting throughout is on point, the actors' faces bathed in shadow as their moods darken and drum beats ring out in the dark portending doom. It’s an impressive, immersive and involving take on a classic right here in Brisbane.
The Curators follow with ‘The Third Beauty: Shakespeare’s Women’ which, rather than being a straight up adaptation of one of the classic plays, is a bold re-visioning of his female characters all performed by male actors. ‘The Third Beauty’ requires more knowledge of Shakespeare to perhaps best enjoy but the performers prove fearless and just as engaging.
The leads make us laugh when they’re being funny and make us feel touched when they’re sad but it can be a bit difficult sometimes to keep up with what is going on. As the characters’ vulnerability and shared camaraderie grows, though, so too does your admiration for the actors. The staging of this show makes use of the way shadows play on the wall, featuring more playful modern touches and impressive costumes.
Both plays choosing to have the actors move among the audience and have no fixed area was an ambitious undertaking that has paid off, you couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. A unique and fascinating night out at the theatre.