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Review: DESTROYED at Theatre Works Explosives Factory

Review by Stephanie Lee


DESTROYED is a new work playing at Theatre Works Explosives Factory for Midsumma Festival and uses the well-known Shakespeare play Macbeth to tell a story of dark desires, grief and of course murder. Created by queer, disabled artist Ebony Rattle, the piece is both sincere and otherworldly at the same time – blending the real and surreal. 


A cast of five make up the ensemble, with three witches (Artemis Munos, Em Jevons and Sarah Cooper) acting as the almost narrators of the piece moving the story along through their probing of Evelyn (the Macbeth like character played by Ebony). The story begins with the audience learning that Evelyn’s friend Dianna has died, placing us in a space of grief and loss. After a prophecy from the witches, Evelyn tries to live her life ignoring the desires that are starting to bubble beneath the surface. A Lady Macbeth like character Gabriel (Sarah Cooper) enters into the story, discussing books of torture with Evelyn and pursuing a relationship. Evelyn’s attempts at trying to ignore her growing dark thoughts are not helped by her friend Maya who blames Evelyn for their friend’s death and picks constant fights with her. Eventually Evelyn snaps (in true Macbeth style) painting with blood-soaked hands before being stabbed by her friend Maya. 


While I think the work could use some more development to better refine the plot, some of the imagery and ideas being explored throughout the work was exciting and at times striking. It’s moments of earnestness are where this piece takes off, my favourite moment of delivery being the stand-up like funeral speech given by Ebony early on. 


The design both set and costume (Emily Busch) were beautifully effective in their simplicity and hold even more potential to create stunning stage pictures. I particularly loved the witches’ costumes, the ragged edges and full coverage giving them a sinister presence on stage. The set I thought could have been utilised more, especially considering the main part of it was a scrim that when lit well added a supernatural feel to the space. Lighting by Charis Rajamani and sound by Alex Mraz both did a good job of creating an appropriately spooky atmosphere. The greens and blues in the lighting felt perfect for amplifying the supernatural of the text. The compositions mostly were effective, however, it was a little bit difficult to hear dialogue at times and in particular I missed a lot of the witches voice recorded sections just because I couldn’t make out the words at such a low level with the effect put over them. 


Overall, the performances had moments of strength and I feel that with more time and text development this work could be something audaciously chilling. DESTROYED’s commentary on grief, desire and destruction definitely pay ode to its source material but this work departs from Shakespeare in a way that makes it a very original take that provides a new lens through which to view the play. 


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