BWW Review: MACBETH at The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
"Double, double toil and trouble, Fire burn, and cauldron bubble."
That's right. It's October. Which means it's time for everyone's favorite cursed play, Shakespeare's Macbeth. And what better place to see it than with the Atlanta Shakespeare Company down at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse.
For those of you unfamiliar with the play, or perhaps need some brushing up from your high school English class, Macbeth follows the title character's ascent to the throne and descent into madness. When three Weird Sisters tell Macbeth and Banquo that Macbeth shall become king and Banquo's young son shall also reign, Macbeth does all he possibly can to ensure he maintains the throne, which includes a few murders.
This particular production shed light on the humanity of the characters, and the good and bad that lies in each of us. The audience could clearly see the change in Matt Nitchie's Macbeth as his deeds got worse and his mental state became more disturbing. This was especially apparent in the scene with the ghost of Banquo (Vinnie Mascola) and the last scene. Likewise, Dani Herd was mesmerizing as Lady Macbeth. Her portrayal felt very human and even garnered some sympathy from the audience. The loving relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth made it apparent that these aren't some power hungry robots, but real people with a variety of emotions who just so happen to make a few bad decisions. On the flip side, Hayley Platt served to bring some light to an otherwise dark show as Banquo's son, Fleance. Her physicality and facial expressions were used to the fullest extent in order to very convincingly play this young boy.
The fight choreography in this production is something to be marveled at. None of it looked clunky, awkward, or staged. The actors made full use of the space and whenever there were multiple people on stage, they all engaged in the combat, which made it very organic. The offstage war sounds at the end were a nice touch, as they reminded the audience that the onstage conversations took place in the midst of a war, and extended the playing space.
As an "original practice" theater, the Shakespeare Tavern seeks to present their shows in the manner that they would have been performed originally during Shakespeare's time, so they include the audience in the story telling. The use of lights in this were very effective, as when the stage lights got brighter for an indoor, or happier scene, the house lights came up too. Likewise, the house lights went off for the weird sisters' scene, which when combined with the smoke and lightning effects, made for a very dark and otherworldly aesthetic.
Macbeth runs at the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse, 499 Peachtree Street NE, from now through October 30th. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.shakespearetavern.com
Photo Credit: The Shakespeare Tavern
Be sure to also check out the upcoming performances of all three parts of Shakespeare's Henry VI in Repertory. You can see all three shows in one weekend, or one a week for the three weeks of production, November 12-27. It's a unique opportunity to catch all three of these history plays, centered around England's King Henry VI and his battle to keep the throne (noticing a common theme here?). The Tavern will also be performing the next in this history series, Richard III, next June.