It’s always a bold move to attempt to update the work of William Shakespeare. It is often a bit of a train wreck with interpretations often going for too much of the new and not enough of the old, or the reverse. This is especially true of people having a crack at “the Scottish play”, which is a pretty nasty tale of ruthless ambition and drastic actions and unexpected dire consequences of the pursuit of power and position.

Signifying Nothing is set in the world of current day Western Australian politics and the biggest suspension of disbelief you have to make is accepting that becoming the Premier of Western Australia would be worth some of the things the protagonists are prepared to do to get there. Greg Fleet plays the swearing Liberal politician Paul MacBeth, whose ambitions are fuelled by his former lawyer wife Lorraine (Nicola Bartlett). They are the only players present, but there are some other characters that appear in effective on-screen sequences, that present extra texture and an eerie other worldy element to the narrative.

Opening night has some tech issue with the AV elements, which Fleet handles with the skill that only a stand-up of thirty years experience could handle. The out of synch audio actually adding to the unease of those sequences by making them more disturbing and uncomfortable. Without going into the blow by blow of the story, MacBeth and his lady are prepared to do just about anything to obtain their desired goals and along the way they are snorting coke, having sex, plotting and acting on drastic actions to succeed at all costs.

Special mention should be made of the use of contemporary music in this production. The music choices are smart and effective. I particularly liked the early use of two songs by The Killers, while establishing the main players ruthless intentions. The mash-up of Shakey’s story and the contemporary slant brought to the piece by the impressive performances is a striking one. Fleets final monologue is incredibly powerful and a great bit of acting. A really impressive piece of work from all involved.

Review by Ian Bell

Catch Signifying Nothing at the Holden Street Theatres through to March 19 9:15pm (No Mondays). Tickets from Fringe Tix.