What I see in the Aux Dog production directed by Victoria Liberatori is the story of a marriage deepened (in a dysfunctional way) by ambition. As the conspiracy to murder King Duncan (Neil Falsombridge) builds between Macbeth (Micah Linford) and Lady Macbeth (Angela Littleton), the intimacy in their relationship intensifies until it almost becomes sexual.
The fascinating part of this production is not the murders. Anyone can focus on the murders. This production focuses on the breakdown of the mind and soul in the aftermath of Duncan's murder. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth each slip into madness in a completely different manner. While the planning of Duncan's murder brought intimacy to their marriage, once the murder is committed, the two become distant, each isolated in personal torment. They fall apart alone.
For Macbeth, one murder just leads to another. The story plays itself out, murder for murder for murder, until an army is raised in England by Macduff (Eliot Stenzel) and Malcolm (Michael Weppler) to finally answer Macbeth blood for blood.
The major character performances in this production are uniformly strong and emotionally forceful with raised voices. I like this directorial choice. I have seen far too many Shakespeare productions where the actors mumble through the unfamiliar language. I subscribe to the notion that if you don't know how to pronounce a word, say it loudly.
I loved the witches. They play a much more central role here than in most Macbeths I've seen. The idea that they're chanting actual spells comes through. (That, by the way, is why you're not supposed to say the word "Macbeth" in a theaterbecause the chants are really spells.) The witches (Cyd Schulte, Yolanda Luchetti-Knight, and Cat Hubka) deliver an elevated reality of spiritual doom. The performances are both musical and sexual. After all, Macbeth shouldn't just be alerted to possible things to come; he needs to be seduced into action.
This production has a simple setting, which is actually very fitting, since it focuses on the emotion and the language. The costuming is contemporary, with guards and military players wearing combat fatigues and carrying guns. I'm not sure of the logic behind this decisionis it to say the themes in Macbeth as just as relevant today? That's true enough, especially given the unrest, killings, and betrayals in the Middle East. Ultimately, it doesn't matter, as the distraction of contemporary costumes is minor.
The poetry of Shakespeare's language is the real star. The Bard's words are delivered clearly, emotionally, musically. No mumbling of Shakespeare here. It almost seems as though the actors are using contemporary language, the words are so clear. This delivery allows Shakespeare's poetry to come through with all its power and beauty.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare is directed by Victoria Liberatori. The production runs at the Aux Dog Theatre, 3011 Monte Vista Blvd. NE , through April 29. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm, Sunday at 2 pm. General admission is $16. Discounts tickets of $12 are available for students, seniors (65 and up), ATG members, those in rescue services (fire, police, medical) and those in the U.S. Armed Forces. On April 22, the theatre will present a benefit showing to celebrate Shakespeare's 448th birthday. Tickets for the performance will be $44.80. For reservations, call 505-254-7716, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.auxdog.com.