2017 is the Year of Macbeth, and we can all see why. The election. Many productions have explicitly stated this, either officially or face to face.
This MACBETH is at the Studio/Stage on Western Avenue (see below). Inevitably it revisits a least a few ideas of other versions this last year, most obviously in a post-apocalyptic setting. One might think after half a dozen versions of the same play I'd be bored? No. Because these have been good productions, each with a vibrant identity and surprises of their own.
But among their victims are themselves.
Along the way a lot of startling, intriguing decisions take form on stage (a weird round structure center stage, at various times a bed or a table or a cauldron or a hill). One, indicative of this world in which we find ourselves, lies in the repellent nature of both King Duncan (Sean Hilferty) and his son Malcom (Liam Cronin). Many Macbeths build on the idea of restoring order in the wake of an evil king. This production does a darker take, in which the world itself is corrupt, which itself is part of the tragedy.
More, this twist is at the heart of the most original thing about this production. In a unique turn, their marriage becomes even more of the heart of everything that happens. We know Lady Macbeth has given birth. Here we get a sense of an agonizing history behind that fact -- she has failed to give her beloved the son he so desperately wants and needs. In a medieval setting this makes for disaster. Since she cannot give her Lord a child, she gives him prophecy instead, doing all she can to win for him power, prestige, a throne and crown!
This Macbeth tugged at the heart, amid the very real horror. It tells the same old tale, but anew and makes it fresh to our eyes. Seems churlish to ask for much more.
Okay, the font in the program was hard to read. But other than that...!
Kudos also to the rest of the cast: Elvinet Piard, Nicholas Teizeira, Alvaro Renteria, Mona Lutfi, Sean James, Amanda Noriko Newman, and Kurt Kanazawa.
Macbeth plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm through November 4, 2017 with a special Halloween performance at 10pm on October 31, at the Studio/Stage 520 North Western Avenue (about two blocks south of Melrose), Los Angeles CA 90004.