As of January 7, 2013, this website will serve as an archive site only. For news, reviews and a connection with audience and creators of theatre all over the country, please go to The Charlebois Post - Canada.

Search This Blog

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review: Macbeth

The Play Which Dare Not Speak its Name with the best intentions...
by Émilie Charlebois

Émilie Charlebois
Repercussion Theatre's Shakespeare-in-the-Park is theatre with the best intentions: bringing professional quality productions to various communities on sticky summer evenings so that people may enjoy classical theatre and support their local food banks...oh, and it's free. So I would really have to be quite the jerk to nit-pick and criticize their rendition of Macbeth. Although I may be such a person at times (including here), there isn't much need to be here because the show was fun. Sadly it was the only time it will be presented in the gorgeous space provided at the Mont-Royal cemetery, but the other featured venues (e.g. Westmount Park, Theatre de la Verdure and Cabot Square) will undoubtedly provide equally charming environments in which to enjoy a bloody tale of murderous aspirations and tyranny!

...casting the weird sisters as transvestite prostitutes whose cauldron burns with gin and cocaine was awesome!

Although I do not possess any profound knowledge of Shakespeare's plays, Macbeth happens to be one that I have had a certain fondness for. In the 5th grade we had to watch a cartoon version of the tragedy for English class and although I am sure the poor quality and awkward animation would have me giggling today, I was mesmerized. It was all so wicked and gruesome and the animated version conveyed this so clearly. In a sea of grayness, the brightest color in the entire thing was red and it was either for blood (obviously) or crazy demonic cartoon eyes (Lady Macbeth's were particularly fiery). As for Repercussion Theatre's adaptation, I do feel that it lost some of the severity and heaviness of the material at times. There was blood and it was still gruesome, but we could always see the actors pouring it on themselves, which highlighted its presence as a prop rather than enabling us to keep believing in the fantasy. I also feel that some of the severity was lost in the uneven attempt to clean up the medieval gloominess of the tragedy and set it within modern times. All the characters were dressed in tailored suits, a new tie was bestowed in recognition of success, and cocktail parties took place instead of banquet hall feasts. Yet crowns and sleeveless fur vests were worn over bare chests and the play still ends with a battle. The modern corporate feel didn't seem to extend much past the costume design. However, casting the weird sisters as transvestite prostitutes whose cauldron burns with gin and cocaine was awesome!

Some of the younger actors did lack some nuance in their emotions (it was often hard to detect whether the various characters played by Chala Hunter were ecstatic after a victory or absolutely hysterical out of fear of what was to come), and because many of them were used for all the minor roles, I'll admit I sometimes lost track of who was who and what their purpose was. But Anana Rydvald's Lady Macbeth was superbly conniving in the first half and absolutely insane in the second. Paul Hopkins' Macbeth could have been slightly more of a warrior, but he was nonetheless convincingly tormented. Actually, all of the male characters could have been a bit heavier in tone, rougher and vengeful. They were by no means inadequate, they simply did a better job conveying urgency, despair and sadness.

Shakespeare-in-the-Park and especially Macbeth, is a great way to spend a summer evening with friends...

But in all honesty, this is just me being picky, because the play was really enjoyable. The sound design was excellent and truly added to the intensity of the most gruesome scenes and the set designed by Cassandre Chantonnier was minimal yet it allowed for some truly creative scenes and movement. Shakespeare-in-the-Park and especially Macbeth, is a great way to spend a summer evening with friends (I wouldn't say families, because most kids I saw there looked bored and restless). Several presentations throughout the city and nearby (e.g. Kirkland, Beaconsfield, Hudson, etc.) are scheduled until August 21st and are not to be missed!

*Remember to bring a chair, blankets (it got surprisingly chilly) and non-perishable items for the food bank. And most importantly, please bring enough change (or more!) for donations to help support future Repercussion Theatre productions.

1 comment:

  1. Good review. Captures the essence of a very decent staging and performance.


Please read our guidelines for posting comments.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.