Review | ‘Unbound’ ruffles collars and bom-bards the senses

Unbound | The Blue Room | Until 4th Sept | ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Three years in the making, Unbound was finally unleashed to Perth audiences at the iconic Blue Room Theatre. From the creative minds of Blank Space Productions, their re-imagined works of Shakespeare were adjusted to provide the female characters more autonomy, whilst simultaneous amalgamating various plays into one seamless retelling.

Act 1: The Kingdom, is the bedrock of this production and features Ophelia and Hamlet (of Hamlet), Macbeth, Iago and Emilia (Othello), and Volumnia (Coriolanus). With so many strong characters competing, the creators expertly weaved their individual stories together in a tapestry of epic tragedy.

Strong deliveries from Hock Edwards (Hamlet) and Ryan Marano (Iago), allowed for sporadic moments of comedic relief, and helped drive home some of Shakespeare’s harder to follow syntax. Edwards actively engaged in all his lines, which increased meaning and metaphor – whilst Marano could hold space even when he wasn’t talking.

Hannah Evelyn (Ophelia) brings an almost childlike innocence to the character; Kynen Hughes brings a chevalier twist to Macbeth; Gala Shevtsov (Emilia) is the compassionate pillar of the monarchy; and Bridget Le May holds steadfast as the regimental Volumnia, prepared to go to war for their loved ones.

With such performances, the use of monochrome set and costume design adds to the contemporary feel – only to be turned on its head with the dramatic, and technicolour shift into the next act.

Act II: The Forest is where some contention lies. Visually, this section is magical, and draws from Shakespearean comedies. Psychedelic, with Woodstock vibes, the cast conduct contemporary dance movements peppered with sonnets.

There was a freeness to the cast, which at times felt more akin to their individual natures. After such a heavy first act, it’s possible this section was a means to alleviate the emotional dirge that came before.

However, its length (30minutes) was perhaps too long and unnecessary in the greater scheme of the production. It also felt too disjointed and separate to the first act, making it feel more like a separate play then a continuation. Act II will either keep the audience’s attention or leave them with iambic pentameter whiplash.

The inclusion of confetti, though a production nightmare, was a visual spectacular. No matter the act, Unbound is a beautifully crafted production. An honourable mention to Bec Price (aka BEXX), a local deejay artist and the production’s sound designer, who delivers a chilling and electric sound track for this dark reimagining.

Though in its early stages, there’s immense growth bubbling under the surface, and a bright future ahead. Shakespeare would’ve been proud.

Get tickets to Unbound via The Blue Room.

Joshua Haines

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