Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Celeste Moratti
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
As a Shakespearean standard, Macbeth is one of the best-known plays in the English-speaking canon. Even watching the most avant-garde, esoteric interpretation of the play, the footholds of plot and character are so culturally prevalent that it is difficult to get lost, which makes First Maria Ensemble’s relatively straightforward presentation of the text all the more baffling in its lack of grounding. Despite having solid knowledge of the play in its original form, the single-note nature of director Celeste Moratti’s interpretation of Macbeth makes it difficult to engage with the text.
The conceit of the production is interesting enough. Utilizing the ease with which Macbeth is driven to delusions of grandeur by the Weird Sisters, the play becomes a lens through which fake news, rumors, and exaggerated claims are magnified. The set comprises draped white spandex, under which performers contort to create a chorus of witches whose facial features are distorted and homogenized. The combination of a warped reality and twisted bodies is a compelling combination, but ultimately the dynamics end there. Tristan Colton’s Macbeth starts at 11/10 on the energy scale, leaving nowhere for the usually delicious journey of Macbeth’s mental unhinging to go. Vocally, the cast leans heavily upon the meter, with little characterization when the ensemble enters double- and triple-cast territory. It becomes muddled and confusing when actors playing mid-to-minor characters change roles, as the fortissimo nature of the production doesn’t allow the audience to sit in the pocket and dissect that which they see and experience.
Dramaturgically, the text is edited well to run a tight two hours and fifteen minutes with intermission, and the energy of the cast pushes the pulse. One would be remiss to discount the stunning original music composed by Francesco Santalucia and soundscapes by Papaceccio. The ambiance of the auditory world of the play is visceral and tangible, helping to elevate the production toward its potential. But unfortunately, the lack of nuance onstage ultimately undermines a promising conceit and aesthetic.
Runs until 21 December 2018 | Image: Jonathan Slaff