As a virgin to The Shakespeare Theatre, I was pleasantly surprised when my recent encounter with Macbeth was a stimulating and enjoyable excursion. The two and a half hours I had predicted to be less than enchanting were filled with symbolism, and an overall attitude towards the Shakespeare classic that I had never contemplated before.
Upon entering the theatre, the audience was confronted with a stark stage, boasting only a large hollow cube with a single, leafless tree standing alone within it. The stark set was relatively consistent throughout the play, allowing the audience to focus on the characters. Another effective set design choice occurs when Macbeth was crowned King, and he and Lady Macbeth sat down on their throne. The throne was made of two black, straight-backed and armless chairs, with a single light dangling over them. Eerily, it was reminiscent of an interrogation room you would find in a prison, or even electric chairs, the perfect throne for a couple of murderers. Later, the throne was moved inside of the cube, separating the Macbeth's from their guests during their feast. Other effective uses of the set design included the use of curtains to allude to shadows and spirits, and the single flight of stairs which emerged to let us know when we were in the house of Macbeth.
The actors were even more enchanting than the mysterious set designs. The role of Lady Macbeth, normally played by Kelly McGillis, was played by Michelle Shupe, who did a wonderful job of torturing herself with her guilty conscience and bloodstained hands. The connection that she and Macbeth (Patrick Page) maintained throughout the play was phenomenal. Upon reading Macbeth, it would simply be impossible to grasp the level of chemistry and apparent devotion that
the couple shares. In the Shakespeare Theatre, however, their love became a point that director Michael Kahn purposefully, and effectively, decided to emphasis. Another interesting choice Kahn made was the staging of Lady Macbeth's death as a focus in the second act. Normally only hinted at in the final scene, Kahn chose to portray Lady Macbeth's brutal suicide outright, instead of just leaving it up to the audience to infer.
Notable performances from supporting actors were given by the three witches, and the young boy who took on the role of Fleance (Samuel Bednar Schachter). The witches, whose screeches and swaggers truly transformed them into creatures not of this earth, were enhanced by the shadows and lighting used during their scenes, as well as the strobe light in the opening of the play. The role of Fleance, more commonly interpreted as a young man, was played remarkably well by a boy no older than twelve. His initial entrance alone was enough to start the wheels turning in the minds of the audience, as many were forced to alter previous notions of a much more mature Fleance. Despite his age, he was still convincing and effective in maintaining the importance of his role,...