Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Macbeth"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


Reviews of Current Productions


note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Larry Stark


"Macbeth"

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Craig A. Foley

Set Design by Jason Sean Hettel
Lighting Design by John Ambrosone
Sound Design by John A. Stone
Costume Design by Nancy Leary
Fight Director Robert Walsh Stage Manager Kathleen J. Parsons

Lady Macbeth..................................................Deer Nelson
Macbeth...........................................................Scott Hoxby
Macduff......................................................Daver Morrison
Banquo/Seyton...............................................Matt Edwards
Malcolm..........................................................Neil McGarry
Lennox.....................................................Dennis Trainor, Jr.
Ross....................................................................Bill Mootos
Donalbain/Servant........................................Joseph Jay Carey
Lady Macduff/Servant.......................................Natalie Brown
Young Macduff/3rd Apparition...............Christopher Thomann
Fleance/2nd Apparition.........................................Devin Jeffers
Duncan/Murderer/Doctor.....................................James Bodge
Soldier/Murderer 1/Young Siward...................Matthew Greene
Witch 2/Murderer 3/Messenger...........................Melinda Lopez
Witch 3/Angus/Old Man/ Messenger..........................Jan Rogge
Thane of Cawdor/Porter/Old Siward/Lord..........Mitchell Mullen
Witch 1/Captain/Messenger/Gentlewoman/Servant...Pamela Hart


M. Wilm Shaxpy
%THE KING'S MEN
Globe Theater
Eastcheap
Dear Will,
The more I see of your Scottish play --- and it's been done a lot lately, particularly in the suburbs --- the less I like it. I just saw some strolling players set up a production out in Beverly. A goodly company, with Craig A. Foley at the helm, nicely dressed all in browns and grays by Nancy Leary and eerily lit by John Ambrosone on Jason Sean Hettel's big round, craggy set. Fights by Robert Walsh with a bloody battle-ax that'd send a chill through anyone's guts, and smoke enough to cure a dozen hams. A goodly company all round, but every one groping about in your ragtag story for some sensible way to play it.

Don't take me wrong. There are flights of glorious language here any man should be proud to have penned. Everyone's quoting from it, and deservedly so. But -- take this from an old friend who loves you --- your script needs a bloody rewrite.

There are so many unexplained holes in your plot that directors have a hard time making sense of your classic tragical-historical. Out in Beverly Scott Hoxby's young, tall, long-haired Thane of Glammis turns out to be a gullible equivocator. It's Dee Nelson as his cold-steel wife that plucks him on to kill James Bodge's king to gain the throne --- to kill a King Duncan who is as lovable and sincere as Old King Cole. His thane and host does the bloody deed --- bloody indeed in this production --- then blunders helplessly on ordering more and more murders without much thought. He's trapped the moment the witches hail him Glammis, Cawdor, and potential king, and he misunderstands every prophecy's meaning from then on. He's a pitiable rather than a fearful tyrant.

In your Danish play, the prince considers for four bleedin' hours before killing a king; here he's ready in an instant, despite his equivocations. In your Moorish play we're presented with hours of increasing villainy by sick Iago. In your Richard play he says he'll play the villain at the outset and proves it again and again before our very eyes. Yet here --- things simply happen.

The trouble with that, Will, is that actors have to have something concrete to work with. They can't always be dredging up subtexts and implications and unstated trenchant glances to string together all your glorious arias. The director's job ought to be to deepen your play's through-line; instead, they're forced to manufacture one, because you didn't.

Considering the incredible handicaps you placed upon them, the Beverly crowd did a really good job. Daver Morrison, another tall young actor, handled Macduff as well as he did that unforgettable battle-ax. Matt Edwards had some quite original bits as a Banquo who knew his old friend's evil side. There was a lot of murky moonlight and an ominous sound-track. Still, I sat there longing for substance and getting only quick-sketches.

There was, in my memory, one production of this Scottish Play that worked, though it wasn't on any stage. Tyrone Guthrie was the soul behind it, though Roman Polansky has the Director's credit, and since Playboy magazine was the producer it has some gratuitous nudity. It's a film, and so a lot of things you can't do on a stage get done --- and Polansky had a feeling for spectacularly gory scenes. That of the bear though, which becomes a perfect metaphor, is pure Guthrie.

So, Will, I hope you'll take my advice and try one more re-write. There certainly have been enough productions over the last three hundred odd years for you to learn just where and how this thin script could be bettered.

Love,
===Anon.

"Macbeth" (till 8 May)
NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY
1(978-922-8500

For more about Macbeth, see Superstition and The Scottish Play, which I found thorough The New Hampshire Greenroom.


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