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a Tragedy
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 4570

SHOWING : April 05, 2014 - May 04, 2014



Witches … prophecy … greed … desire for power … a wife’s yearnings … which is it that seals the tragic fate of Macbeth and his country? Journey to Scotland for this haunting tale. Macbeth is sure to thrill and to chill.

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by playgoer
Friday, April 25, 2014
The New American Shakespeare Tavern’s "Macbeth" has some inventive elements. Fight choreography by Drew Reeves is certainly action-packed and energetic. Puppet design by Beau Brown makes for some "ooh"-inducing moments as a dagger appears before Macbeth and as the witches conjure apparitions, including a baby whose face instantly turns into a speaking skull. As a whole, though, it’s too much a laid-back affair.

A lot of this is due to the acting styles of Jacob York, as Macbeth, and Paul Hester, as Macduff. They’re both a bit modern in style, more detached than engaged at many points in the action. Mr. York only comes into his own after intermission; the first act belongs to Veronika Duerr as Lady Macbeth, all guile and heartless smiles and sex appeal.

Director Troy Willis has created one indelible moment in the play: as Macbeth recites the "tomorrow and tomorrow" speech, he slowly strangles the messenger who has brought him news of Lady Macbeth’s death. That moment shows us that Macbeth’s ineluctable descent into evil has reached bottom, preparing us for Macbeth’s inexorable defeat.

The play is not helped by its double-casting. It works fairly well for the women (except when they are portraying men), since headgear can give them distinct looks. The facial hair of most men gives them away as distinct actors, and it doesn’t help that some (like Clarke Weigle) seem to invest each of their multiple roles with the same delivery and demeanor. Only Joshua Diboll lands as a distinct personage as the comic porter, a murderer, Hecate, and Seyton. Matt Felton also has distinct bearing as Angus and a murderer, but his speeches have a flat tone to them. At least he can be understood, unlike Matt Nitchie (Banquo and a doctor), whose inconsistent volume and diction make stray lines indecipherable. Chris Rushing, as ultimate victor Malcolm, does a fine job, but doesn’t quite step up to the challenge of being the hero in the final moments.

Costuming, by Anné Carole Butler, uses muted colors and tartans to garb the Scottish cast, aside from white nightclothes that distinctly show the bloodstains of Duncan’s assassination. Mary Ruth Ralston’s light design echoes the murkiness of the costumes, to give an atmospheric feel to the proceedings. Blocking makes full use of the stage, so visually the production is not static, but not exciting.

"Macbeth" can be one of the most intense (and short) of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Here, it doesn’t pass by quickly enough. There’s not much shape to the piece until the final resolution is being neared. Shakespeare is being presented with a fair amount of clarity, but with not enough drive and momentum. It’s fine to see "Macbeth," but the New American Shakespeare Tavern doesn’t allow us to fully experience "Macbeth." [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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