Written by Wm. Shakespeare
Directed by Michael Carlton
Starring Eric Hissom, Jonathan Croy, Richard Width
Orlando UCF Shakespeare Festival • Through Oct 31, Loch Haven Park
Gratitude. There ain’t no dang gratitude anymore. MacBeth (Hissom) and buddies have just kicked some pesky Norsky butt, and good King Duncan (Croy) rewards him with the additional title “Thane of Cawdor.” (Thane is the modern equivalent of Chief Operating Officer.) However, MacBeth and Banquo have run into some refugees from the Psychic Friends Hotline, who mutter something about MacBeth as king and Banquo as a father of kings, the two are a bit burned because they didn’t get anointed RIGHT NOW. Egged on by his social climbing wife, MacBeth knifes the king when he drops by to return a hedge trimmer and pass out a few extra titles. Things go down hill from here. Pretty near everyone dies, including Banquo, who hadn’t finished all his lines, forcing him to return as a ghost until he fulfills his contractual requirements. The most gruesome death belong to little MacDuff’s (Width) infant, who is crushed with a truly disgusting sound effect.
The close, murky confines of Loch Haven make an intimate setting for this classic. From the opening witch’s chant, delivered in eerie darkness, to the energetic sword play that knocks off the few remaining characters in the last act, the audience becomes a part of this top notch production. I had an aisle seat, and feared from my arms and ears as the players ran circles around us, often in more darkness than OSHA would deem safe. Hissom’s MacBeth encourages speculation as to why a loyal thane would betray his king the morning after a great victory, a victory in which his own future seemed so assured. The money isn’t that great, and how big a deal can it be to run a place like medieval Scotland? MacBeth agonizes, but eventually his wife talks him into the worst possible course of action. Treachery backs up bad advice, and in the end you can see why it took so long to exit the dark ages — you can only allow one competent guy alive at any given time. MacBeth isn’t about morality or loyalty — it’s about personal management in the dark ages.