BWW Reviews: City Theatre's MACBETH is Devilishly Good
By the pricking of my thumb, something wickedly entertaining this way comes. Austin's City Theatre has a reputation for rousing and memorable stagings of Shakespearian plays, and that reputation continues with their current production of Macbeth.
The production, helmed by director Kevin Gates, sets the murderous tale of the King of Scotland and his over-ambitious wife in a non-defined time and place. Instead of Renaissance era costumes, the costume design team of Lindsay McKenna, Bert Flanagan, and Rosalie Oliveri gives us modern costumes in blacks, purples and reds. Likewise, set designer Andy Berkovsky gives us the façade of a rotting house as opposed to a lavish castle. The modern but indeterminate setting places the focus squarely on Shakespeare's iconic characters and hauntingly poetic language, and the entire cast is more than able to handle the difficulties of Shakespeare's text and language. But strengths of Gates's direction extend beyond his choice of setting. His direction is fairly quick-paced, and some sequences, particularly the scenes involving the witches, are staged in a refreshingly original and inventive way.
While Macbeth revolves around the title character and his maniacal wife, several of the supporting players shine. Cara Juan, Elly Stevens, and Whitney Blake Dean are wonderfully creepy as the trio of witches. Heath Allyn is exciting and intense as Banquo, and Dave Yakubik excels at playing Macduff's woe, rage, and thirst for vengeance.
But still, the two leads prove to be the most memorable of the cast. Dawn Erin is forceful, driven, and downright scary as Lady Macbeth. In her hands, Lady Macbeth is a woman well before her time and more than capable to go toe to toe against the men in her world. As Macbeth, Brian Villalobos gives a breathtaking performance. His Macbeth is brooding, mysterious, sexy, and just as ambitious as his bride. While Macbeth is sometimes portrayed as a cautious, almost spineless man who's easily manipulated by his wife, Villalobos takes a different approach. This Macbeth is equal in ambition to his wife and therefore does not need to be led by her. Instead, he creates their murderous plot with her, and when the two are partnered together their chemistry is undeniable.
As mentioned above, The City Theatre is known for strong interpretations of Shakespeare, but this production of Macbeth raises the stakes even further. This is the best Shakespearian production to be staged at The City Theatre in a long while and is the perfect Halloween thriller.
Running time: Approximately 2 hours and 35 minutes, including one 15 minute intermission.
MACBETH plays The City Theatre at 3823 Airport Blvd. Suite D, Austin 78722 now thru November 3rd. Performances are Thursday - Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 5:30pm. Tickets are $10-$25. For tickets and information, please visit www.citytheatreaustin.org