CUPPERS: The Tragedie of MacClegg (Teddy Hall)

Thu 10th – Sat 12th November 2011


Xandra Burns

at 10:34 on 13th Nov 2011



Shakespeare adaptations are a risky business - when done poorly they are distractingly bad, but when done well they can be incredible - and St Edmund Hall’s Cuppers entry “The Tragedie of MacClegg” lies firmly in the “incredible” category. Writers/directors Thomas Bailey and Efraim Carlebach fluidly merge recent political events with Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” and although both stories are presumably familiar to the audience, the play maintains freshness throughout, constantly clever and never predictable. Each element of this production - writing, acting, directing, tech - pushes far beyond the expectations of a Cuppers entry.

Aleksander Cvetkovic as Nick Clegg leads the cast with grace and professionalism, displaying a range of emotional capacity from uncomfortable shuffling in the presence of the Three Witches to a panicked bleeding-blue speech to the play’s solid concluding soliloquy. An actor beyond his years, Cvetkovic is definitely one to watch.

The ensemble has no weak link, with each actor present and in character without pushing too far into caricature, the challenge that a play of this sort presents. Ellie Page and Tom Hilton doubled as Big Issue-selling Witches and clean-cut Lib Dem Advisors so effectively that it took several minutes for me to notice that they were the same actors in different costumes.

Scene transitions are smooth and inspired. While the actors reassemble the sets to each effective arrangement, the content of the play is supplemented with sound clips from interviews and news reports that provide historical context and a link to reality - the details in all areas knit together elegantly. Although the production is engaging enough that I wish it could have lasted longer than thirty minutes, Bailey and Carlebach did an excellent job of paring down a three-hour play to fit their adaptation to the time limit.

One simply cannot except anything more of a Cuppers entry, and in fact, it is the best piece of student drama I have seen this term so far. “The Tragedie of MacClegg” embraces the challenges and opportunities that Cuppers provides, exhibiting clear collaboration that allows new talent in all areas to shine. It is rare to view a play that captures the timelessness of Shakespeare’s original so well - finally, one that does it right.



anna normandale; 13th Nov 2011; 13:36:25

A lovely review which makes me want to see this play

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