Bringing the Tragedy of Macbeth to the Bason Botanical Gardens in Whanganui on a summer's night was a brave undertaking, and director Karen Craig and all the cast and crew deserve hearty congratulations.

The final performance on Saturday night started in daylight with loudly chirping cicadas and a humming generator in the background, and some of the audience may have struggled to hear the actors with quieter voices.

No one could fail to hear the blood-curdling cackle from Nadine Rayner, the first of the three witches, as she made her entrance, and Melissa Hawkins (recently seen as Honey in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf) was a disturbingly likeable evil crone.

The trio was completed by Rebekah Dack - who, I'm told, joined the cast just three weeks ago after Skyler Hawkins had to pull out due to illness.


As the hapless Scottish nobles were drawn into the witches' evil schemes, we saw murder most foul, walking dead and some surprising comedy. The satire was mostly wrought by the three enchantresses who, at one point, appeared with cardboard cut-outs of Kardashian sisters on sticks.

A drunken porter, played by Hamish McDouall, provided some light relief as he convinced everyone he had indeed been carousing until the second crow of the rooster.

Andrew Fawcett and Rachel Plank gave strong performances as the ill-fated Macbeths and Graham Dack was a fine Macduff, but it was Chris McKenzie as Banquo who caught my ear. Shakespearean is like a first language to this guy, and it was a pity to see him killed off and appearing only as a voiceless ghost for the second half of the play.

Banquo's killers were well portrayed by Kieran Spence and Mitchum Kurt Taylor, both suitably sinister with their lurking and beard-stroking ways.

The young cast members gave it their all and the youngest, Eric Craig, 7, delivered his lines flawlessly as the third apparition.

Bravo to the Bason Botanic Gardens Committee, the production team, the backstage crew, the pipers who brought Birnam Wood to the Bason Reserve and everyone involved - a grand effort.