MCBETH - A REVIEW

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note: entire contents copyright 1996 by Larry Stark


"McBeth!"

an original rock play

                  Written and Directed  by D. W. Ferranti
                        Original Music by Jim Jones
                       Lyrics by Ferranti and Jones

                    Music performed by THE JOINT CHIEFS
              Technical Director and Co-Producer, Tony Maciag
                       Video Footage by Ben Brigham
                  Costumes by (the Fabulous) Robin Ducot
                       Sound Effects by Gary Quinton
               Lighting by Mark Janowitz and Jeremie Lozier
                     Band Sound by Kevin Meyer-Golden

                          Produced by ACME THEATR

                                  C A S T
                          in order of appearance
             Wounded Soldier.........................Don Wood
             Witches........................Suzanne McIlvenna
                                               Lynnette Estes
                                          Christine Pelletier
             McBeth......................James Felix McKenney
             Banquo...........................Alisdair Manson
             Ross..................................Paul Scott
             Angus..................................Mikey Dee
             Duncan.......................Gary Quinton/Wilder
             Malcolm.................................Ad Frank
             Lennox...............................Dean Fisher
             Fleance...............................Blue Lewis
             Attendants................Hutch, Declan Geraghty
             Lady McBeth............................Fran Pado
             Porter................D. W. Ferranti/Brad Scobie
             McDuff.............Winston Braman/D. W. Ferranti
             Real Stories Cameraman...........Jared Mazzaschi
             Hecate.............................Linda Bean P.
             1st Murderer.........................Colin Price
             2nd Murderer, Seyton..................Rich Casey
             Townies.................Ken Zimmerman, Jay Vente
             Lady McDuff.....Hilken Mancini/Suzanne McIlvenna
             Kid McDuff............................Blue Lewis
             Doctor............................D. W. Ferranti
             Nurse.............................Robbie Alterio
    

The Acme Theatr, as they insistently spell it, says their original rock play "McBeth!" is "Shakespeare for the reading impaired" but that is untrue. Writer-Director D. W. Ferranti uses the original play like a backboard off which to bounce campy, slangy rewordings and satirical send-ups. This broad, brash, blaring blast is an over-the-top act of vengeance by people who have hated the play ever since their sophomore year at Boston Latin.

Director Ferranti's concept gallops off in all directions, plugging in whatever gimmick comes to hand. The Thane of Dorchester becomes the Thane of Charlestown, but he kills "King" Duncan to inherit a pure white Celtics jacket. Malcolm and McDuff flee to Providence, and it's the ivy of Harvard that moves against McBeth in the final act. An on-stage model of an Impala and projected video-tapes of highways, live-action video projections of the performance in progress, puny cap-pistols, and amplified music and original songs all war with Shakespeare's words.

The scattergun approach characterizes individual performances as well. First onstage, Don Wood as a dying soldier lurches about spilling pints of stage-blood and growling inarticulately about an after-hockey riot. His approach is chillingly, believably method compared to the pure-camp sendup of the Hallowe'en witches who follow him, complete with dry-ice fog and a polyglot selection of contemptuously faked accents.

James Felix McKenney's McBeth is a scenery-chewing hysteric, while Fran Prado as Lady McBeth flatly rushes Shakespeare's lines and actions, skimming the surface of a straight reading. Alisdair Manson plays Banquo straight until, as his own ghost, he flips into a mimed compendium of the Three Stooges.

The music is amplified and rhythmical. Ad Frank as Malcolm does a puppet-like Irish step-dance while singing his unworthiness to be king. Linda Bean P. plays Hecate as Elvira with a license to talk filthy, and inflates the tiny part with another original song. There's also a long re-cap in song for people who missed act one. For anyone interested in them, the lyrics are printed into the program.

Director Ferranti never met a schtick he didn't like, and this unselective air of exhuberance is both the strength and the failure of this experiment. The pace is breakneck, the bits impressive and embarrassing by turns, and the line between sly satire and simple showing-off is criss-crossed continually. What's missing is a single skewer for the shishkebob.

                          26 - 27 - 28 January at
                       MAMA KIN'S LANDSDOWNE THEATRE
                       36 Landsdowne Street,  BOSTON
                              1(617)536-2100
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