BWW Reviews: Mobile Shakespeare Unit's MACBETH Settles Into The Public
Joseph Papp famously created free Shakespeare in the Park with the belief that Shakespeare should belong to everyone. Expanding on that notion is the Public Theater's Mobile Shakespeare Unit, dedicated to bringing compact productions of the bard's classics to populations that cannot come to the Delacorte.
Like the unit's previous productions, director Edward Torres' gritty and energetic portable Macbeth toured prisons, nursing homes, community centers and shelters throughout the five boroughs before settling into The Public for a limited run.
Many of their previous audience members have never attended a live professional theatre production before, so one of the intreging elements for seasoned audience members is to try and see the performance through the eyes of someone serving time on Riker's Island or seeking safety in a shelter for battered women.
But even without that context, this is a fine and engaging production, with the text trimmed to 100 intermissionless minutes. The racially diverse eight-member company, most playing multiple roles, reflects Papp's original concept of casting Shakespeare with an ensemble that looks like the population of New York and their performances reflect a mix of classic and contemporary styles, as do Amanda Seymour's costumes and Wilson Chin's set; a graffiti-laden rug and three chests.
In the title role, Rob Campbell is aggressive on the battlefield in fight director Lisa Kopitsky's well-staged scenes and nicely conflicted when it comes to loyalty and politics. Jennifer Ikeda's solidly committed Lady Macbeth is a fierce presence. She teams with Nicole Lewis and Teresa Avia Lim as street punk versions of the three witches, their scenes accented by an appropriately abraisive steel guitar.
Played with the audience surrounding the action in only three rows of seats, and with tickets priced at only $20, this Macbeth would serve as an excellent production for those just discovering Shakespeare, as well as provide a fun evening for those looking to see an old classic through new eyes