Death by night


by William Shakespeare
Directed by Kitt Lavoie
Cry Havoc Productions
The Present Company Theatorium
Non union production (closed)
Review by David Mackler

Cry Havoc Productions' vision of Shakespeare's Macbeth put the emphasis on youth and darkness, which suits the play very well. The sometimes feckless actions of the characters make perfect sense when performed by twenty-somethings aching to prove their manhood.

Director Kitt Lavoie set the action in a modern-style but war-torn Scotland, where "Who goes there?" is backed up with a pointed gun. The agile cast clambered over two large wheeled construction platforms which, combined with some movable platforms, constitute the set (also by Lavoie). The large, essentially black-box space includes a high-up walkway across three sides that was well-used; the action was well-paced, and the story clearly told. Much was accomplished with few trappings.

The familiar items were all in place, but often given a new spin that delivered a punch. The slow-motion battle that began the play set the mood convincingly, with the trench-coated street fighters truly showing a life-or-death intensity. The white-faced witches (Margaret Evans, Joan Fishman, Dara Steinberg) pronounced their prophecies, but left the dirty work to their familiars (Jennifer Reichert, Tiffany Tang, Genevieve DeVeyra), three provocatively dressed women whose main job was seduction. The whole of the play's action seemed to take place at night, with no hope of dawn. Two scenes, "Is this a dagger . . ." and "Out, damned spot . . ." were played lit mainly by high-powered flashlight, forcing a concentration on the words, and effectively isolating the characters. Other times, though, the lighting (by Kara Herzog) called undue attention to itself, highlighting what was already apparent.

The actors held themselves to a uniformly high standard of energy. The acting wasn't consistent, sometimes even within a single performance, but when it was good it was very very good. (Sometimes, though, voices did not carry over the fans, a problem with unair-conditioned summer theater.) Timothy Davis was a strong Macbeth -a not an oxymoron in this case, for once the plan of action was decided he was in charge, impelled to make the best of the deteriorating situation. His Lady (Dina Mandès) was more problematic , though - clearly a tough woman, hot for power and her husband, she did not drive the plot. Christopher Burke was a rather bland Macduff until he became riveting in his grief; Alex Miller was a very strong presence as Banquo, and he was even more so after his death. Ladan Nabet and Grahaeme Gillis were warm and human as Lady Macduff and Ross, showing the emotional toll that the conflict was causing. Eric Ashenbrenner's Malcolm truly became kingly during his handling of the face-off with Macduff.

All were costumed in dark shades of brown, beige and green - no bright colors here, except on one witch's familiar (costume design by Jonathan Starr), and there was good, mood-setting original music by Fluvius. There were some well-staged, violent, unexpected deaths, and a breathtaking final tableau of chilling prognostication that explains the prophecy of Banquo's children being kings, even though the play ends with Malcolm in charge. It was a superb touch.

Also with Bill Corry, Darren Eichhorn, Ryan Schira, Devan Schira, Chase Perrett, Matthew Fox, Sam Rovin, Karl Holman, Jack Meggers.

Box Score:

Writing: 2

Directing: 2

Acting: 1

Set: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2000 David Mackler