There are some tenuous links between Macbeth and Faust; both are great men who become swept up in supernatural affairs, and doom themselves by trying to gain more power. And … well, some other stuff too. This loose relationship between Macbeth and Faust is the subject of Nathaniel Green’s new play Out, Out Damned Clock: Faust Meets Macbeth.
The project ultimately comes across as a modern retelling of the story of Faust, with a minuscule subplot that is kinda reminiscent of Macbeth. In Green’s hands we attend the tale of Fritz MacElroy (Ryan Darling), an actor who has been disfigured in a fire. Fritz meets Memphis Pete (Nathaniel Green), a mobster who offers to loan Fritz the money needed for reconstructive surgery (and enough to bribe his way onto the Hollywood A-list). Memphis actually turns out to be a servant of the devil, and Fritz must work to reclaim his soul before his time runs out, a la Faust.
As for Macbeth, Fritz has a brother (named Mac, of course) who is in the Army and plots to kill his commanding officer. Mac’s wife is actually the driving force behind the murder scheme, and seduces Fritz into providing the money needed to hire a Murderer.
The Macbeth-meet-Faust angle just doesn’t work, either thematically or dramaturgically. The two stories almost never interconnect, aside from the seduction scene. In fact, the whole Macbeth story barely qualifies as a subplot (shortly after the intermission, Memphis Pete informs Fritz, “Your brother was killed in a gunfight with the police and his wife committed suicide,” thus entirely dismissing the Macbeth portion of the show with one line of dialog).
There are lots of Shakespeare, and Marlowe quotes tossed in as well, which might be expected, but there are even some quotes from shows other than Macbeth and Faust, including the scene where Mac decides to kill his boss and dramatically quotes from Julius Cesar.
Green’s direction was terribly overblown which, when combined with the long-winded dialog and hamfisted symbolism, creates a show lacking in subtlety, and offering little to expand the Faust mythos (Goethe, Marlowe, and Gounod already handled it). There’s also an attempt to make the story funny, which doesn’t succeed, mostly due to a lack of crisp dialog in the funny scenes, and a lack of comic timing in its delivery.
When Fritz and Memphis have their final showdown, a happy ending is brought about by a complete deux ex machina ending in which Fritz ends up having his soul saved through no action of his own, in a twist that wasn’t foreshadowed at all.
The cast gave it their all, but generally weren’t up to the job (some of them were fresh out of school and others were making their theatrical debut).
Given that it doesn’t adhere much to its notion of Macbeth and Faust interacting, the project is not likely to even hold the attention of Shakespeare/Marlowe buffs. So, if audience members looking for a supernatural team-up should probably skip Faust Meet Macbeth and go with Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.
Also featuring: Pat Garges, Paul Hummel, Katherine Williams, Jeannette Acquavella, Maggie Le Vine, and Abigail Chaon.)
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Copyright 2005 Charles Battersby