Macbeth By William Shakespeare
Directed by Alan Bruun
With Bobby Bell, Michael Sapp, Sophie Wise
Mad Cow Theater, Orlando FL
Interested in Shakespeare? Willing to plunge into 90 minutes of iambic pentameter and medieval Gaelic politics? This might not be an idea entry port, but it’s a powerful one. Using three actors and some essential editing, this Macbeth hit the high points of the story, although the glue that binds is pasted rather thin in some areas. Here’s a Cliff Notes outline: Macbeth kicks butt in the war, and is rewarded by the king. The king drops by Macbeth’s castle on a business trip, and Lady Macbeth suggests an easy power grab – slip some rufies in his wine and strike in the middle of the night. Mr. Macbeth agrees, but immediately smells disaster. With a body in the guest room, calmer heads guess at the double cross and rally English assistance. Using 9th century camouflage they attack Macbeth whose strategy degrades to reading his horoscope. A postive spin on the mumbo-jumbo isn’t enough and gets what he deserves: a beheading and a cursed piece of theatre. Got that? There will be a test.
I admire this production, the shear scope of learning lines and keeping 35 voiced actors separate could only be pulled off by skilled and spirited actors like Wise, Ball, and Sapp. Bruun’s direction keeps all this confusion ordered, and we will miss him as he leaves Mad Cow after a century of productions. Everyone gets to play Macbeth – Bell as the victorious thane led astray by his social climber wife, Sapp as the statesman caught in his own personal Watergate, and Wise as the cornered rat whose psychic advisors trick him with their Delphic double talk. Each actor had shining moments, and when not shining they lent their full support to the star of the moment. Bell did his best work as the familiar with the Frankenstein lighting, and his hair deserved it own credit in the program. Wise played the best Macbeth, her bluster and physically diminutive size captured the desperation of a pretender trapped and about to be unpretended. Sapp had many shining moments, but he carried Banquo’s soul better than any I’ve seen in my 5 previous Macbeth’s.
I’m not sure who did the editing on this script, but the essential were left in place – the dagger of the mind, the irremovable spot, bubbling pots and screwed courage, and at 95 minutes this was a triathlon that pushed the limits of the cast and audience. I liked this production, but I’ll offer some advice: this is a Macbeth for the professional theater goer, and likely to leave the neophyte lost and confused. At a minimum, scan the wiki before you commit to the rapidly disappearing tickets. The program is NOT going to guide you on this spirit journey.
For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com