Well, that’s right. Filled with shouting, drumming and blood, blood, blood, this Macbeth is a fearsome production. Director Fred Sullivan Jr. has missed no chance to put a point right under your nose, and into your ears. Drums pound, soldiers shout and women weep.
But amid all this tumult the feeling of great characters gone inexplicitly wrong has not been found. This “Macbeth,” full of sound and fury does not fully signify Shakespeare’s picture of great people gone wrong. It plays as if power and powder are the source of all that’s needed. Subtlety and goodness be damned. Drive and winning are elevated above all. Its “Macbeth” exploded, driven beyond all need.
And what’s more difficult to understand is that there is much fine acting, strong characterization. As Lady Macbeth, Janine Kane gives us a woman both corrupt and a corrupter, a great enabler of her husband’s “black and deep desires. When she sneeringly tells her husband to put his courage on “the sticking place” you can feel yourself flinch. She makes her would-be queen a woman you abhor at one point and for whom you feel deep compassion at others.
Tony Estrella gives us a weak-at-the-knees Macbeth as he follows his wife’s desires and is ever feckless, a follower who pretends to lead. Then at the end, when all is lost, he regains some purpose, some inner drive, as he takes on a lost cause against the revenging Macduff.
Others, Richard Donelly as a smiling all-too-confident King Duncan, Norman Beauregard as a believable court figure who turns against Macbeth and Wendy Overly, as wicked a witch as you’ll ever see, all lend first-rate work to this production.
But with these good performances, I have to say that this “Macbeth” falls short or, rather, it simply goes over the top too much for me to appreciate what is perhaps Shakespeare’s most questioning, forceful, and fitful, play.
In the famous moments where the Bard has both his main characters display blood, literally and figuratively on their hands, this production shows us both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth with hands covered completely in sticky, thick dark red blood.
It is director Sullivan telling us of the hideousness of their crimes both physical and mental. But the idea goes too far.
Shakespeare’s play is shaded, asking how can these people, the Macbeth’s, who have so much, become so corrupt in their need for more? How can they ruin everything through their sterile and dangerous ambition?
That question, it seems to me, is central and is run over in this big bang production.
But other reviews have given praise. At the show I saw some audience members stood and cheered at the end. So, you pays your money and you makes your choice. Differences can be good, particularly when you’re dealing with a masterpiece.
Want To Go?
Macbeth” at the Gamm Theatre now continues through April 19th.
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