Macbeth | 2.09.11-3.06.11

Stickney truly dazzles in this scene. As Macbeth is tormented by Duncan’s ghost throughout dinner, Stickney pulls out all of the stops in portraying what looks like temporary schizophrenia.

 
 
 
The show opens with the witches convening together to see when they will meet with Macbeth to tell him of his future. The next scene introduces us to King Duncan, played by 10-year Rep veteran Jerry Vogel, and his generals: Macbeth, played by Timothy D. Stickney, in his first Rep production; and Banquo, played by returning performer Jason Cannon. They have just defeated the armies of Norway and Ireland.  The actors really bring the scene to life and do a great job of transporting the audience into the midst of the action, so that we forget we are watching a play in a theater.
 
Excitement builds as we hear the infamous line, “double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” We are met with the witches again as they prophesy to Macbeth, saying he will become Thane of Glamis, then Thane of Cawdor and finally king. The feisty Banquo is skeptical of the witches’ predictions until they reveal to him that he will father a line of kings, but he will not become one himself.
 
Fulfilling the first prophecy, the king’s messenger Ross (played by Christopher Hickey) comes to bestow Macbeth with the title of Thane of Glamis, which Macbeth writes about to his wife. The infamous Lady Macbeth, played by Caris Vujcec, is introduced as she is plotting to kill King Duncan, who is staying at their castle, Inverness.
 
Vujcec’s Lady Macbeth does not seem nearly has vicious as I remember the character being. She does manipulate her husband to get what she wants (and ultimately that’s Duncan dead, to ensure the witches’ prophecy comes to pass). But Vujcec softens Lady Macbeth, downplaying some of the evil, vicious spirit the character seems to have when one reads the play. This was disappointing, because audiences look for a sense of heartlessness in this wicked character; it feels as though Vujcec leaves something out in her interpretation.
 
“What is done cannot be undone,” Lady Macbeth tells her husband as he becomes overwhelmed with with guilt over the murder of King Duncan the following night at dinner with the noble court of Scotland. Stickney, who pours himself totally into his character from the start, truly dazzles in this scene. As Macbeth is tormented by Duncan’s ghost throughout dinner, Stickney pulls out all of the stops in portraying what looks like temporary schizophrenia. Macbeth’s guests are bewildered at his antics and Lady Macbeth desperately scrambles to convince them that everything is okay.
 
The second act opens with Banquo and his son Fleance fleeing to England, but when Macbeth hears about this he sends three murderers along to kill Banquo, but not Fleance. Here Macbeth seems to take more than his share of the blame, coming across as unduly evil and deceitful while Lady Macbeth, who I always viewed as the true villain because of her manipulating nature and determination to get what she wants at any cost to others, gets off the hook too easily.
 
The scene in which Macbeth seizes Macduff’s castle and kills his family was awful. It was completely overacted and melodramatic; I just wanted them to die already! I couldn’t help but chuckle, because it was so out place with the established quality and tone of the rest of the production.
 
Strangely, the same actors who brought plenty of raw passion and seemed completely committed to their roles came across as disengaged and flat during the fight scenes. In the last fight between Macbeth and Macduff, the most real and exciting part was when Macbeth proclaimed that “no man of woman born” would defeat him, and Macduff responded that he was “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb. This drew laughs from the audience just before Macbeth died and the play ended. Overall, if you enjoy Shakespeare and want a little comic relief worked into the dramatic scenes, you should catch this production at the Rep before it ends March 6. | Ashley White
 
For more information regarding Macbeth at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, visit the website at www.repstl.org.
 
 

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