BWW Review: MACBETH at Brookfield Theatre For The Arts
MACBETH opened at the Brookfield Theatre for the Arts on Friday the 13th, under a full moon. It was the perfect night for this play full of witches and ghosts, murder and madness. Often called "The Scottish Play" in theater circles due to its supposed cursed past, MACBETH is an ambitious undertaking for a small community theater, but the company rose to the challenge with an engaging performance of the immortal Shakespearean tragedy.
MACBETH is a dark tale, complete with war and regicide, wherein ambition overrides morality. When Macbeth encounters three witches who predict that he is to be king, he and his evil wife hatch a plot to kill the reigning King Duncan. But, 'uneasy lies the head that wears the crown' to quote another Shakespearean play. Macbeth is spurred to greater atrocities to ensure that he remains king. Guilt takes its toll on both Macbeth and his lady and they eventually pay the ultimate price for their unbridled ambition.
For the most part, the director, Jane Farnol, and the actors do this classic story justice. David Regelmann is excellent as the doomed Macbeth. He is totally believable as he skillfully moves through the full range of emotions that Macbeth experiences through his tragic journey: fear, triumph, anger, desperation, madness and defeat. Also excellent is Thomas Samuels as Macbeth's frenemy Banquo. His looming stage presence is immediately felt from the first scene, so much so, that it was easy to see how Macbeth would see his friend as such a threat.
Also excellent in their roles are Christopher Bird and Rebecca Pokorski as MacDuff and Lady MacDuff. I credit Ms. Pokorski in aptly conveying Lady MacDuff's disappointment after her husband flees to England and I could feel her terror for herself and her children as they run from Macbeth's assassins. Christopher Bird's performance is especially heartfelt when MacDuff learns that his wife and children were all killed. His desire for vengeance is palpable.
Vickie Sosbe plays my favorite character, Lady Macbeth. Ms. Sosbe's performance is especially scary and skillfully manipulative when she conjures up the image of dashing her own child's brains out to shame Macbeth to man up and go through with their murderous plan. Ms. Sosbe also easily conveys the sharp and conniving side of Lady Macbeth as she navigates the feast where Macbeth first begins to unravel when confronted by Banquo's ghost. A little less believable, unfortunately, was the scene where Lady Macbeth's madness is revealed, although given her performance up to that part, I think it was more of a matter of pacing, rather than a shortcoming of the actress. I would have preferred to see her cold composure fall apart more gradually, rather than rushed through the one sleepwalking scene where she cries "Out, damned spot."
Pacing, in fact, is my biggest complaint with this production overall. With a running time of around 90 minutes, the show is quick enough and action packed enough to keep audiences engaged. The problem is, that with Shakespeare, if the pace is too fast, you run the risk of losing the meaning behind those beautiful words and soliloquies. Luckily, most of the main cast seems to understand this but for some of the other members of the ensemble, I got the sense that they were doing little more than reciting. Unfortunately I felt this for the three witches who serve as the catalysts for the action on the stage.
In a surprise directorial move, these actors (Keira Sosbe, Kylie Block, and Molly Badinelli) were not actually on the stage but were seen in a projection. While this makes sense in making them appear 'other-worldly' in theory, I unfortunately felt the execution fell flat. Not having them share the stage with Macbeth made their roles seem less integral to the story, relegating them to outside observers. Also, their rhyming couplets seemed rushed through, making it difficult to immediately comprehend the nature and meaning of their prophecies. However, once again, I did not see this as a fault of the actresses, but a matter of pacing.
Despite the shock of seeing the projections, I did enjoy this production, which was strengthened by the performances of the principal players. Costumes were beautifully rendered by Rebecca Porkorski and I enjoyed the fight choreography. Special congratulations for all the props, including the abundance of blood and even the macabre severed head on a pike. Perfect elements as we head into the fall/Halloween season.
MACBETH runs through September 28 at Brookfield Theatre for the Arts.