Image description: a teenage woman sits on a heavy, wooden throne, arms perched on the armrests, against a dark background. She wears a bejewelled, gold crown, and a heavy black dress with a large, white lace collar and sleeves. She has a serious expression and looks into the camera.
By Sam Beard and Riva-Jean Lander
In darkness, Hecate ascends from the land. ‘The matriarch of ancient knowledge,’ Della Rae Morrison’s performance transforms Shakespeare’s goddess of witchcraft into a brooding spiritual presence. The latest production from the Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, Hecate (or ‘Macbeth in Noongar’ as it was affectionately called during pre-production) is a masterful reimaging of a theatre classic.
Adapted and directed by Kylie Bracknell (Kaarljilba Kaardn), Hecate is a thunderously visceral experience, seamlessly mixing theatre, song and dance. Performed in Wandaraguttagurrup (Subiaco) in the Subiaco Art Centre’s main theatre, the full space becomes the stage: energetic performers bounce down alleys between seating to the front.
It is not long before we are introduced to the Mischief Makers (or the ‘witches’). The performances of Ian Wilkes, Mark Nannup and Kyle J Morrison are captivating as these animated and impish characters. Also playing the roles of Macduff, Malcolm and Lennox respectively, Wilkes, Nannup and Morrison’s physical energy and choreography is entrancing as they squabble, scheme and bounce from scene to scene. At times, the changes between acts seem somewhat abrupt, and it takes a moment to follow the characters as each actor plays multiple roles. However, this does not significantly hamper the flow of the narrative.
Not only is Hecate historic for the cast’s use of Noongar language; it is mesmerising. Both reviewers left with a profound feeling of gratefulness for what we had seen. Long scenes of dialogue are accompanied by the performers’ excellent use of physical queues to progress the narrative for non-Noongar speakers. Maitland Schnaars’s stoic performance of Macbeth is one such example of this, in which Schnaars conveys narrative in subtle gestures and changes in tone.
The appearances of Duncan (Trevor Ryan) and Banquo’s (Rubeun Yorkshire) ghosts are wickedly fun. Bracknell’s use of humour throughout the play forms a strong ebb and flow between intense and emotional scenes, such as the ambush of Fleance (wonderfully played by Cezera Critti-Schnaars). Bobbi Henry’s Lady Macbeth is a more sympathetic character than what is typical in The Scottish Play, adding to the drama and tensions between the Macbeths in unexpected ways.
Overall, Hecate is another fantastic work from Yirra Yaakin, who seem to be going from strength to strength with each production – mooditj!
Hecate runs until the 16th of February, and tickets start at $25; you can buy them here.
Four and a half mischief makers out of five
Sam studies art history and enjoys snorkelling.
Riva studies architecture, in the hope of one day designing somewhere to house all her pot plants.
Image courtesy of Eva Fernandez