note: entire contents copyright 2014 by Richard Pacheco
“Macbeth” at the Gamm Theatre is a wonderful, intelligent, intense production. The Gamm knows how to do Shakespeare and does so at its very best in this production which is marked by superb performances and intelligent staging. Director Fred Sullivan Jr. delivers a superb staging and evokes terrific performances for the entire cast. The production lingers in the mind and haunts. The setting could be World War I, with rifles and Marilyn Salvatore’s simple trench coats, but Sullivan has not overdone the period look.
Tony Estrella is the vain and victorious Macbeth who is obsessed with the witches’ prediction that he will not only become Thane, but king. But Macbeth’s succumbing to his passion and ambition at all costs gets hi impetus from the conniving of his wife, played by Jeanine Kane. They are remarkable together in their nefarious, conniving treachery. Estrella is wide eyed as he plunges into the dark caverns of his limitless ambition, propelled forward by his ruthless wife’s machinations. This is a danse macabre of death and the downfall of destruction by unbridled ambition.
Estrella has true finesse with Shakespeare, knowing how to get the most out of the lines with daring and sincerity. He delivers a masterful performance that is haunting and piercing.
Kane is excellent and the conniving Lady Macbeth, a cauldron of seething ambition for her husband in his quest to fulfill the prophecy and become king no matter what dastardly deeds he must perform to make it all happen. She is chilling in her cold blooded machinations, without heart or care. She is a kind of Lucretia Borgia in her deadliness and relentless pursuit of her political ambitions. Until guilt and remorse overtake her and erode her neat, if nefarious little world view.
The deadly little dance they perform to commit murder and advance Macbeth’s ill fated career is ruthless and compelling, dark and inviting into their murderous little world.
There are a couple of new faces from the Boston area who stand out. Michael Forden Walker is excellent as Banquo, who is at first Macbeth’s close aide and later turns against him. Jordan Ahnquist is outstanding as Malcolm, son of the murdered King Duncan.
Steve Kidd is Macduff, who plays it all in understated calm which is effective until he learns of the murder of his wife and children and then grids on his resolve to see things through.
Richard Donelly, another Gamm veteran, plays King Duncan with grace, dignity and presence. He is a king of integrity and grandeur. He later returns as Old Seward.
The three witches are wonderfully done by Wendy Overly, Alec Thibodeau, and Rachel Dulude. The rest of the large cast is top notch. Yung Bedros Kevorkian is excellent as Macduff’s son.
Fred Sullivan Jr. direction is able, accessible and full of finesse and fine touches. It makes this an enjoyable production on so many levels. It leaves a distinct and vivid impression. This is Shakespeare at it best, and if you love Shakespeare or have never seen it, take the time to see this one. It is well worth it. It is relentless and merciless, like watching a fatal accident occur and it holds you transfixed throughout.
The Patrick Lynch set design is simple and effective with minimal touches, no more than is needed to make it all work.
“Macbeth” runs through April 13 at the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre, 172 Exchange St., Pawtucket. Tickets are $38-48. Call (401) 723-4266, or visit gammtheatre.org.