Review Roundup: Classic Stage Company's MACBETH - See What Critics Thought
Classic Stage Company presents husband and wife team Corey Stoll (First Man, "House of Cards") and Nadia Bowers (Describe the Night, The Farnsworth Invention) as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, respectively, in the company's upcoming production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, directed by John Doyle and running October 10 - December 15 at CSC (136 E 13th St, New York). Single tickets will go on sale Thursday, August 15, at noon.
Shakespeare's terrifying tale of revenge, murder, and madness, Macbeth traces the fallout when the darkest side of humanity cheats its way into a position of power. Stoll and Bowers, real-life spouses, will portray the titular couple whose trajectory has proven historically prophetic: Shakespeare's portrait of the psychology of tyranny has found itself in unsettling dialogue with societies around the world time and again.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: Minor quirks aside, there's much to be enjoyed from the performances of its solid nine-member company, many of whom play multiple roles, sometimes crossing over gender boundaries...Corey Stoll certainly cuts a physically imposing figure as Macbeth.
Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times: "Macbeth," which opened Sunday, is an anatomy of corruption, inscribing the path from power foretold to power seized to power clung to at all costs. As directed by John Doyle, the company's artistic director, it is also profoundly human, even with its chorus of witches to incant their visions of Macbeth's rise to the Scottish throne - predictions that he, at first, finds so unnerving that he tries to shake them off.
Helen Shaw, Vulture: It gets you a company that looks and sounds adrift. In a short show-Shakespeare's briefest script cut even further to an hour and 40 minutes-the time drags by. The actors have few ways to reclaim energy in a world so relentlessly enervated and untethered. They can be loud, so there are some of those Intense Running Entrances too common in bad Shakespeare. And they can flap their blankets.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: It does, however, have one major thing going for it: namely, Corey Stoll, playing the title role of the Scottish general who murders his way to that country's throne, urged on by his ambitious wife. Stoll is quietly becoming one of our foremost Shakespearean actors; this is his third commanding lead performance in as many years, having scored triumphs as Brutus and Iago in the Shakespeare in the Park productions of Julius Caesar and Othello, respectively.
Naveen Kumar, TimeOut: Stoll makes clear sense of the verse, though his Macbeth doesn't seem to find a doomed descent into treachery too out of the ordinary. But even in a production that skims the surface, Nadia Bowers seems out of her depth as his conniving wife. As the body count mounts and real feeling is required, the result is melodrama and inadvertent humor. When the hurlyburly's done, the battle's far more lost than won.
Thom Geier, The Wrap: Even theatergoers familiar with "Macbeth" are liable to be confused by John Doyle's pared-down 100-minute production, which opened Sunday at Off Broadway's Classic Stage Company and plays like a highlights reel for students who just need to bone up on the major bits before the final exam and don't have time to even read the full CliffsNotes. Not only are major scenes trimmed or cut altogether (like the much-loved porter scene), but most of the nine-person ensemble doubles and even triples up roles - and all join in for chorus-like recitations of the weird sisters, robbing those scenes of much of their otherworldly creepiness.
Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: On a pretty bare stage, bar some benches, a huge wooden throne, and a puzzlingly under-used gallery level, Corey Stoll plays Macbeth with a fluent grace and a droll, brisk power. Nadia Bowers is a fine Lady Macbeth too, approaching her own heinous scheming with-like her husband-one eye on making us smile, occasionally, at her heinousness.
David Walters, New York Theatre Guide: Nadia Bowers and Corey Stoll, as the Macbeths, deliver with personal power and unfettered determination the relationship that is the keystone to the play. Without Mrs., Mr. would not have taken the steps he did up the stairway to the throne. Just below the surface of that relationship, there was an immaturity to the title character that I felt was played by Mr. Stoll that furthered and strengthened the manipulation of Lady Macbeth allowing for Ms. Bowers' personal power to pour forth.
Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: Is John Doyle the Marie Kondo of theater? The director's predictably stripped-down Macbeth off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company (he also designed the bare-bones dark wood scenery)-which runs a fleet 1 hour and 40 minutes, sans intermission-could be called, in all sincerity, clutter-free theater. And with Shakespeare, let's face it: The less clutter, the better.
David Finkle, New York Stage Review: There are several performances that work at various moments, the most rewarding coming from Barzin Akhavan as Macduff. His grief when learning his wife and children have been slaughtered is extremely moving, particularly his reading of the words "all my pretty ones." Mary Beth Peil is a regal King Duncan, and as Malcolm, Raffi Barsoumian delivers the closing speech with appealing dignity.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus