Review of Macbeth
By William Shakespeare
Directed by David Lear
For tickets / schedule :
Railroad Square, Santa Rosa
(Enter through 6th Street Playhouse)
RUN: July 1-23, 2016
RATING: 4 of 5 stars
(July 9, 2016)
Branches entwine a rough stage bordered by towering brick buildings adorned with vibrant graffiti. Taiko drumming emerges from the juxtaposition of historic and abstractly modern, rumbling with earthy rhythms. Shakespeare in the Cannery’s Macbeth is a grounded production, emphasizing the ever-present fates, and preserving a mingling of ancient and modern that parallels the setting in Santa Rosa. Bike gang leather joins with Scottish capes in Tracy Hinman’s costume designs, and David Lear’s scenic design blends perfectly into its environment, while referencing the prophetic line “Fear not, till Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane”.
Layered throughout is a multi faceted performance by Sonoma County Taiko, from muted heartbeats to adrenaline infused ferocious combat. The sound was particularly effective building up to the final battle, dropping off in eerie silence with the pronouncement of Lady Macbeth’s death. The raw energy combined with brilliant stage direction for the Weird Sisters creates a mystical atmosphere pervading the story.
Benjamin Stowe’s Macbeth was adequate until the weight of his deeds transformed the character, culminating in the feverish horror of the banquet scene, when Banquo’s ghost appears, known only to him. Rather than portraying a classically mad king, Stowe’s Macbeth is riddled with guilt eating him up from the inside, poisoning his actions. Playing on his inherent ambition, Ilana Niernberger’s Lady Macbeth is intense and driven, until she also succumbs to repugnance of her deeds. The subtle costume design shifts with her moods, from sexy corset to a belt reflective of Duncan’s crown, and flowing unrestricted black when her outlook darkens. The supporting cast is excellent, such as Alan Kaplan’s stalwart Banquo, loyal to the end, and Sam Coughlin’s cunning and courageous Malcolm. Brief and memorable, Eric Thompson was hilarious as the hung over Porter, clowning through the audience and wincing with each stroke of knocking.
Bring a picnic ahead of the performance for unique outdoor ambiance, and a blanket or chairs to stay comfortable. Shakespeare in the Cannery’s Macbeth thrills with the clash of battle, Lady Macbeth’s sensual manipulations, and exhilarating Taiko drumming. Railroad Square is the place to be for a journey into the highlands with Shakespeare’s iconic play.