BWW Review: MACBETH Highlights The Might of Women and Folly of Man
Shakespeare's MACBETH is presented this Halloween season by Something For Nothing Theater. In keeping with their mission statement of providing accessible, family-friendly Shakespeare to the community, Something For Nothing mounts their production at Ramsey Park's outdoor amphitheatre in Rosedale.
A basic understanding of the Scottish tragedy written by William Shakespeare can widely be assumed. Macbeth (Patrick David Wheeler), a young, ambitious general receives an ominous prophecy from a trio of witches (Chelsea Manasseri, Alaithia Velez, and Anna Carvalho) that he will soon become the new king of Scotland. Consumed by their lust for power, Macbeth and his wife, the Lady Macbeth (Regan Goins) devise a murderous plot to rid themselves of the current king, Duncan. When Macbeth carries out the duo's plan and Duncan is killed, he is crowned the new sovereign. Consumed by guilt and paranoia, he is forced to commit more murders to cover up his crimes, slowly driving himself towards madness and tyranny. The consequences, bloodshed, and cries of war swiftly drag the doomed king and his queen deeper into the depths of lunacy and death.
The first act of the Shakespearean tragedy is exciting and visually captivating. Performances by the large ensemble are intense, energetic, and full of passion. Leading the group's outstanding performances is the delightfully delicious coven of witches played by Chelsea Manasseri, Alaithia Velez, and Anna Carvalho. The unholy threesome moves as one in a trance-like state, gleefully guiding Macbeth and others towards their fate. Barely containing their twisted pleasure, the witches' growls and shrieks serve as a disturbing soundscape to the play's proceedings. Closing in on their ranks is Regan Goins as Lady Macbeth. Goins' turn as the plotting would-be queen is commanding and visceral. Goins draws the audience in and holds them captive during her stunning monologues. Corinna Browning also gives notable performances as noble general Banquo and the Lady MacDuff in the second act.
In the beginning director, Mary Amelia Beyer makes one thing very clear - the women hold the power. While Macbeth is the central character, the women around him are the driving force behind his actions. They prey on the intrinsic toxicity of his character and wield it to manipulate the tyrant to do their bidding, making it his own shortcomings that eventually lead to his demise. Unfortunately, this focus does not carry over into act two and the play loses its footing. The loss of momentum is felt, especially when MacDuff learns of his family's murder and the culminating scene of Macbeth's death. The searing intensity of the first act is replaced by rushed dialogue and unmotivated action. It is difficult to say what causes this disconnect but whatever the reason, the result does not resonate.
Setting and costumes for the production are kept clean and straightforward. Designer, Daniel Sullivan makes the most of the simple prop, costume, and set pieces making items multitask in several instances. Lighting by Courtney DeGinder also keeps things uncomplicated, but eerie in design. Fight choreography by Toby Minor is a highlight of the performance. Minor's brutally realistic staging has an underlying viciousness that plays out beautifully especially during the murders of Banquo and the MacDuff family, respectively.
All in all, MACBETH presented by Something For Nothing Theater is an enjoyable evening of accessible theatre. Although the play falters in act two, the show itself is mostly well done. The talent of the women in this production is the undeniable force driving the show. While by no means are their characters innocent, one wonders if Macbeth would have fared better if he had listened to them a little closer.
MACBETH is now playing at the Ramsey Park (4301 Rosedale Ave. Austin, Texas 78756) until November 10th, Thursday-Saturday at 8:00pm.
Run time: approximately 2 hours with one 10-minute intermission.
Tickets: Free To The Public