BWW Review: Shaking the Tree's MACBETH, Full of Sound and Fury, Signifies Plenty

BWW Review: Shaking the Tree's MACBETH, Full of Sound and Fury, Signifies Plenty

The main thing I remember from the last time I saw MACBETH (which was, admittedly, a long time ago) was some silly witches and a bunch of cheesy sword fights between men in red loincloths. What I will remember from Shaking the Tree's production is the horror of what can happen when ambition goes unchecked and the thrill of watching Jamie Rea, as Macbeth, descend into madness. This is not a MACBETH of silly witches and over-staged fights. It's a MACBETH of terrifying demons and shadows.

I was particularly excited about this MACBETH because a) I'll see anything directed by Samantha Van Der Merwe and b) I was intrigued by the idea of a woman in the title role. With her singular ability to make every play hyper socially relevant and emotionally intense, Van Der Merwe does not disappoint. This is, after all, a play about a tyrant who will do anything to increase his power.

In terms of the casting, Van Der Merwe had something more than just gender-switching in mind. She completely de-gendered the play. The entire cast wears the same stark outfit (thankfully, not a red loincloth!), and several of the actors switch between male and female roles. This makes the play's themes of violence and how to be a man even more interesting.

I've mentioned Jamie Rea in passing, but just to be clear: she's a brilliant Macbeth. The same is true of Anne Sorce Lady Macbeth. Her unravelling during the sleepwalking scene is superb. The rest of the ensemble, all of whom play multiple roles, are equally strong.

Finally, the set, which is just four moveable screens used to create walls, woods, and reflections, coupled with some neat lighting tricks and eerie sound design, all heighten the mood and help bring the demons and shadows to life.

MACBETH runs through March 17 at Shaking the Tree. More details and tickets here.

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From This Author Krista Garver

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