The bell tolls
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Richard Harden
North Patio of the Soldiers' and Sailors'
Equity approved showcase (closed
Review by David Mackler
Death was an unrelenting participant in Hudson Warehouse’s Macbeth, with most of the cast dressed in the familiar hooded shroud. They would reveal themselves as their characters, then re-shroud themselves and remain on stage – simply there, never letting the audience forget that death hangs over everything. Battles, sex, ambition – death is there for all of it. It was a great touch that added depth, to director Richard Harden’s conception of the play.
The figures were also the witches (all nine or so of them), but when Lady Macbeth (Danielle Quisenberry) showed up, it was pretty clear she too was a witch – spreading magic powders as she declares how she will be her husband’s spine, and forming creepy tableau with the cast, everyone dressed in black and white. Quisenberry was simultaneously very sexy and very creepy – she was an animal, psychotic, seductive, feral, and magnificent. But she wasn’t immune to a shift in power: when Macbeth (Tom Demenkoff) justifies to her the impending murder of Duncan (Kelly King), she’s the one who seems unsure. This leads to a terrific revelation – when Macbeth is undone by seeing Banquo (a strong Don Carter), sure it’s his Lady who takes over, but she’s no longer the powerful figure she was. She’s well on her way to being the wounded animal she later shows herself to be when she sleepwalks.
Talking to the audience is a tricky proposition, and in Shakespeare it can be dangerous unless it’s a comedy. Which made Demenkoff’s performance as Macbeth even more impressive – he was an external, outward Macbeth, not an internal worrier. It was meta-theatrical, but soliloquies became conversations with the audience, and an interaction with an audience member blowing out a candle after the announcement of Lady Macbeth’s demise was surprisingly moving.
Motion was nearly constant, which was a good thing because the action gave much meaning to the play and counterbalanced (for example) a rather talky scene between Macduff (Len Childers) and Malcolm (Nick de Vita), but de Vita got better and Malcolm grew stronger when he talked specifically about how he could retake his country. And while Macduff and Macbeth had their final (and well-staged) sword fight (de Vita was also the fight choreographer), it was Macbeth who in the end offered himself to be sacrificed. It was an overt action taken, rather than suffering a defeat. It made perfect sense.
Also with Amber Voiles as a genuine Lady Macduff, Drew Rosene, Roberto de Felice, Stephen Bittrich, Joe Hamel, Jake Demenkoff, and Joe Crow Ryan, whose pounding percussion helped toll the death knell. Alison Smith’s effective black and white costumes seemed, and rightly so for Macbeth, to drain the park of color.
Copyright 2007 David Mackler
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