BWW Review: MACBETH Bewitches Audiences at The Curtain Theatre
From the moment we arrive into the property where the theatre is located, we feel as if we have been transported back to Elizabethan times. The Curtain Theatre is a neat replica of the original Shakespeare's Globe in London, where many of William Shakespeare's masterpieces were first played. We are welcomed by some of the troupe members, who interact with the audience in character, very much like actors would have done back in the day. There is a buzz of excitement in the audience that one wouldn't expect with a play like MACBETH, but the ambiance provided by the theatre and the chill in the fall air, get the audience electrified for what is about to happen on stage.
The story of MacBeth is well known among fans of Shakespeare. It is a story that depicts the lowest instincts of humanity. MacBeth, a brave but not virtuous Scottish general, is tempted to pursue his ambitions of power by the prophecies of three witches. After he commits his first murder and is crown King of Scotland, he finds himself on a murderous path to tyranny. Treacherous acts of cowardice, maddening conspiracies, and a devilish wife that encourages him to pursue a reign with unchecked powers, drive MacBeth to his demise.
The story has many important and timeless themes, all of which are deliciously delivered by the company of The Baron's Men; corruption driven by increased lust for power and unchecked ambition, tyrannic rule, and cruelty versus masculinity.
The couple at the center of the play, MacBeth and Lady MacBeth, are both affected by their lust for power in very different ways. MacBeth, who is not initially drawn to murder, is consumed by his greed and ambition. He performs unthinkable acts of cruelty that rot his morality to the point of immense guilt and paranoia. Casey Jones portrays MacBeth with an inner quality of goodness that seems out of place for this character. It is not until the appearance of Banquo's ghost at the banquet, that we get to see his true acting chops. Madness overtakes him and his entire being gets engulfed in the character. After that scene, we are all there with Mr. Jones, as MacBeth embarks in a journey to self-destruction. Lady MacBeth, however, seems to be at ease plotting and encouraging her husband to do what it takes to gain the power he is due. Shannon Dodson is powerful as Lady MacBeth. She masterfully conveys the character's internal battle between good and evil. On one hand, she loves her husband and she is devastated when he starts showing signs of insanity. On the other hand, she struggles to keep her own greed for power within the boundaries of morality. Thanks to Ms. Dodson, we can experience the torment in Lady MacBeth's mind as she, too, starts to spiral into madness, driven by guilt and a broken heart.
Tyranny is not something of the past. We see the effects of tyrannic rule amidst the poverty and the violence ridden streets of Zimbabwe, the militarized regime of North Korea, and social displacement and global neglect in Cuba. Shakespeare believed that tyranny could be overthrown by the will of the people and gave the men of MacBeth the power to organize and defeat their oppressive newly appointed King of Scotland. The company of The Baron's Men does an outstanding job at delivering the strength and courage that it takes to undertake such a feat and survive to tell the story. One cannot but think if valiancy alone can overcome tyranny in today's world. A performance worth a mention is that of Nick Gollihugh as Banquo. His impeccable portrayal of an honorable man that does not betray his morality to friendship or power, is one to watch and enjoy.
The theme of cruelty versus masculinity is present in the play as well. Embedded in many scenes throughout the story, characters provoke one another to commit unthinkable acts of violence in the name of masculinity. Victoria Kelly (Lady Macduff), in a gut-wrenching scene, is witness to a vile act of villainy in the name of power and virility, when her son is murdered in front of her eyes.
Finally, I would like to mention three of the most duplicitous characters in the story: The Witches. Portrayed with perfect devilry by Danielle Bondurant, Jennifer Fielding, and Stephanie Crugnola; they are a true sign that "something wicked this way comes".
As the story comes to an end, and justice is served, we close the evening with peace in our hearts because we are witness to the beauty of Shakespeare's works delivered with true theatrical mastery in the heart of Austin, TX.
Directed by Jacquelyn Lies for The Baron's Men, MACBETH is now playing at The Curtain Theatre (7400 Coldwater Canyon Dr. | Austin, TX 78730), October 4 - October 26, 2019.
Tickets start at $15 (Students) and $20 (Adults); available online and at the door
For more information: http://www.thebaronsmen.org
About the Baron's Men Company: The Baron's Men is a small, independently funded community theatre dedicated to the research of Elizabethan theatre and the performance of plays from that period. The company performs at The Curtain Theatre, a replica of Shakespeare's Globe, on the property of Mr. Richard Garriott.