November 4, 2016

“Macbeth” mixes horror and tragedy on stage

By Jared Thomas–

The Actor’s Theater of Louisville, locally famous for its inventive productions, brought a modern twist to the Shakespearian classic “Macbeth.” This is not your grandmother’s play.

From the start, as an embattled warrior staggers on to the stage caked in blood, visceral guts hanging from his back, the casual broken doll heads that scatter the minimalistic grey stage tell a story that is far different from high school English class.

The three Weird Sisters, once a haunting staple of the play, were reinvented as versions of the young girl demon from the classic horror film “The Ring,” draped in white dresses and hidden behind long black hair.

With an inventive musical score (dotted by the like of emo pop artist Lorde), this old tale is brought with startling violence into the modern day.

The modern tint is eventuated by the open lack of any of the pomp and circumstance of a traditional production. There were no gold chains or massive gaudy crowns. Instead, the clothing matched more of what you would expect a modern Scot to be wearing – parkas, cardigans and heavy sweaters. While at first it seemed brutally at odds with the language being spouted, it ultimately helped the play’s disturbing nature.

The performances do away with a lot of the humanity of the situation. After the initial bloodletting, Macbeth transformed quickly into a violent, murder crazed madman. “Macbeth” is a vicious exercise in watching people we like get brutally murdered by someone whose gravitas you cannot help but admire.

This play is at its best when the artful hand of this modern interpretation is present.

During one of its highest moments, all the lights on stage were turned out and all the audience could see was the bouncing of flashlights in the dark. The brutal murder scene that followed was accentuated by the fact that only blood showing through faded beams of light were visible.

There is nothing but praise for this interpretation. Its modern trapping are accentuated by the unanticipated brutality. “Macbeth” is a horror and is thusly treated as such.

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