The Scottish play comes to Villanova Theatre; The story we all know well: It’s Shakespeare’s story of ambition, conscience, inevitability of our fates, and kazoos. Kazoos? We’ll get there.
At times, this production, directed by James J. Christy is visually and textually innovative. Christy introduces Shadows for Macbeth (Kyle Fennie) and Lady Macbeth (Meg Trelease). Shadows are characters that act as an echo for the two leads, played hauntingly by Jess Otterbrine for Macbeth and Chris Monaco for LadyMacbeth. They repeat selected words and phrases from the Macbeths’ speeches, sometimes in emotionless tones and at other times expressing the aggression felt by the characters. What these Shadows represent is unclear, whether they are the burdens of conscience and the overwhelming weight of guilty motivations or if they represent an aspect of the self, present in an unquiet mind acting as a visual expression of divided deliberations, their usage adds a resonance to this production. The Macbeths each have a gravitas and strength that serves as a mask, while the shadows display more revealing aspects of their personalities. Upon learning of Lady Macbeth’s suicide, Macbeth’s shadow falls into a position of agony before walking away, leaving Macbeth alone with his fate, lost in his own inevitable self-destruction.
This production struggles with pacing issues. The comic relief primarily expressed by the Porter characters (John K. Baxter, Chris Monaco, and Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez), while inventive and humorous, tends to slow down the action. Breaking up Macbeth’s classic speech and the final battle scenes with kazoo playing blood-moppers destroys the momentum and does not allow us to properly stew upon Fennie’s interpretation of this beautiful and tragic soliloquy.
This production offers gore, unconventionality, and laughs, and certainly strikes up debates about the meaning of the play’s profound poetry.There is little more than can be asked of a theater night with the Bard.
[Vasey Hall, Villanova University, 800 E. Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA] November 10-22, 2015; villanovatheatre.org.