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New Jersey by Bob Rendell

Macbeth, Bloody Macbeth

Also see Rosemary Harris is both Oscar and The Pink Lady

Macbeth
Cleo House, Eric Hissom, Dan Hodge
The ambitious Two River Theatre has thrown budgetary and artistic caution to the wind in order to bring us Shakespeare’s Macbeth replete with magic effects in a bold, swift, eye-popping, and bloody production. Although they have added textural alterations to the derigueur elisions, co-directors Teller (yes, that Teller, there is no other) and Aaron Posner have remained faithful to the drama and poetry of the Bard. Their inspired adornments serve the text. In fact, the over the title description of Macbeth as “a horror show” on the program’s cover would be appropriate for a conventional Macbeth. Its employment here attests to Teller and Posner’s perspicacity.

Return with me to 11th century Scotland. After defeating invading armies, King Duncan’s generals, Macbeth and Banquo, encounter three witches (here the Weird Sisters – destiny or fate in mythology - portrayed by three men) who prophesy that Macbeth will be King, but that it will be Banquo’s progeny who will be heir to the Throne. After Duncan designates his son Duncan as his successor, Lady Macbeth urges Macbeth to murder Duncan and usurp his throne. Macbeth murders Duncan. He also kills Duncan’s guards whose swords he has dipped in Duncan’s blood in order to frame them for the murder. Because of the witches’ prophesy, Macbeth hires two men to murder Banquo and his son Fleance. A reign of terror has begun. It is replete with visions, ghostly visitations, madness, war and the murder of men, women and children spilling out across the stage with dizzying and dazzling rapidity.

Ian Merrill Peakes is a more evilly ambitious Macbeth then we usually encounter. Peakes is not as much riven with remorse and guilt as he is determined to ravage the fates and forces which he fears will cost him his ill gotten gains. Kate Eastwood Norris is a convincingly cunning and sensuous Lady Macbeth. It is certainly to be expected that General Macbeth, the thane of Glamis, would have a trophy wife.

Paul Morella performs Banquo in stalwart, straight forward fashion. Cody Neckell powerfully limns the nearly mad revengefulness to which his Macduff is driven. The entire 17 member cast performs with a drive and clarity that is totality in tune with the production’s vision.

Co-directors Aaron Posner and Teller have explored to an unusual extent the phantasmagoria which informs and underpins Macbeth, and is often misinterpreted as psychological depth. Employing illusionist magic meticulously designed by Teller to a judicious degree and buckets of stage blood, directors Aaron Posner and Teller bring vibrant life and freshness to the proceedings. For one thing, watch those Weird Sisters very closely, and you will be most be breathtakingly impressed. Scenic Designer Daniel Conway has craftily designed a tricky and intriguing set dominated by a surrealistically barred wrought iron gate and providing for the integration of magic apparatuses. There is an effective, largely percussive sound and music score by Kenny Wollesen

This Teller-Posner conception of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a co-production with Washington, D.C.’s Folger Theatre. It will be presented at the Folgger after the conclusion of its current run at Two River. It is well worth a trip to either venue.

Macbeth will continue performances through February 17, 2008 (link to web site for specific dates)at the Two River Theatre Company Rechnitz Theatre, 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, NJ 07701. Box Office: 732-345-1400; on-line: www.trtc.org

Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Conceived and Directed by Teller and Aaron Posner

Cast
Jake Cameron………………………….Young Macduff
Cooper D’ambrose………………..Sgt./Young Siward
Evander Duck………………………………….Lennox
Eric Hissom………weird Sister/Porter/Doctor/Murderer
Dan Hodge…................................Weird Sister/Caithness
Cleo House……………weird Sister/Mentieth/Murderer
Richard Huntley………………………..Percussionist
Joe Isenberg……………………………………...Angus
Scott Kerns……………………………………Malcolm
Paul Morella…………………………………..Banquo
Jack Newsome…………………………………..Fleance
Cody Nickell…………………………………..Macduff
Kate Eastwood Norris………………Lady Macbeth
Dan Olmstead……………………..Duncan/Old Siward
Ian Merrill Peakes…………………………..Macbeth
Karen Peakes…………….Lady Macduff/Gentlewoman
Jake Tavill……………………………...Young Macduff
Noel Velez………………………………..................Ross
Lorenzo Villanueva……………..Donalbain/Seyton


Photo: T. Charles Erickson


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- Bob Rendell



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