By William Shakespeare
Directed by Scott Westerman
At The Artistic Home, Chicago
“Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee;
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.” –Macbeth
Futurist water shortage world proves an appropriate setting for “The Scottish Play.”
One of the challenges in staging Macbeth in a small storefront theatre is creating the proper atmosphere and tone for Shakespeare’s psychological tragedy. Jake Bray’s set and lighting, complete with several ramps, a two level, and a gloomy darkish set, evokes the troubles ahead, especially concerning the shortage of water that is referenced in the text. With the high boots and leather-Misti Bradford’s costumes-the atmosphere is ready for The Bard’s play. This is a most worthy production led by the tour de force performance by John Mossman, a veteran of many Shakespeare productions, as Macbeth.
Macbeth is all about the lust for power that finds friends betraying each other, where blinding ambition of a general and his wife propel them to kill to feed their lust for power. We see Scotland become filled with murder and violence.
Macbeth is a psychological study that finds Macbeth (John Mossman plays the general/king effectively) suffering from delusional and paranoid behavior with loads of guilt as he gains the Scottish throne only to be obsessed with retaining his power. Lady Macbeth (Maria Stephens) uses her seductive power over men to gain her desires.
Director Scott Westerman’s haunting use of the witches (Brookelyn Hebert, Skye Shrum, and Jill Oliver), complete with scary persona enhanced with looming sound effects and red lighting, rendered an eerie atmosphere where supernatural witches, ghosts and “strange imaginings” linger. At times, the witches mumbled their text making it hard to both hear and understand.
When King Duncan (Will Casey) visits Macbeth’s castle, he is killed as Macbeth and his lady lust for his throne. Macduff (Frank Nail) is suspicious of Macbeth. They leave Scotland with Malcolm (Julian Hester) as Macbeth’s tyrannical rule grows more vicious.Macbeth begins to dwell upon the Three Witches earlier prophecies of which several became true. He worries about the prophecy concerning Banquo (Tom Hickey) as the “primogenitor of kings.” Macbeth hires men to kill Banquo and his children. Malcolm and Macduff, in exile in England, raise an army to dethrone Macbeth. Filled with visceral and spooky scenes, this Macbeth is creepy and quite intoxicating. The entire cast spoke softly , especially Mossman as Macbeth, thus forcing us to listen closely to the wonderful text. This worked well in the intimate venue.At time some cast members had opening night jitters, but on the whole the ensemble roamed the challenging ramp infested set complete with an actual drowning pool most worthy. But the production is truly Macbeth’s play due to the subtle and charismatic turn by John Mossman. In other production’s of Macbeth, often time Lady Macbeth is the most powerful character. Not here. Kudos to The Artistic Home for the chutzpah to mount an ambitious, provocative version of Macbeth. It is an engaging and spooky tragedy worth seeing.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: February 22. 2015
For more info checkout the Macbeth page at theatreinchicago.com
At The Artistic Home, 1276 W. Grand, Chicago, IL, 312-243-3963, www.theartistichome.org, tickets $28 -$32, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through April 4, 2015.
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