macbeth bard on the beach 2004
theatre review

Hilary Strang as Lady Macbeth and Donald Adams as Macbeth in Bard on the Beach's 2004 staging of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Photo: David CooperMacbeth
by William Shakespeare
Bard on the Beach
Vanier Park
June 26-September 23
$16.00 to $27.00

The tragic power and superb dramatic poetry of Shakespeare’s Macbeth guarantee a profound evening of theatre. But so fair and foul is this production of the Scottish play in Bard’s small tent--from Yvan Morisette’s wonderfully functional thrust stage design but tacky backcloth, to Moira Wylie’s imaginative deployment of the witches but otherwise often unimaginative rhetorical direction, to uneven performances in the major roles. As Macbeth says of the witches‘ supernatural soliciting, it cannot be ill yet cannot be wholly good.

Prick’d by vaulting ambition, Donald Adams as Macbeth looks like Richard Nixon, the banality of evil with a five o’clock shadow. Adams is most effective when methodical and ruthless after Macbeth first becomes King. But at moments of high emotional intensity he tends to tilt his head and gaze darkly wide-eyed upward and outward towards the middle distance, evoking silent film or melodrama, a technique evidently encouraged by the director. Many of the actors play their speeches out above the audience rather than to each other. As Lady M., Hilary Strang is full of sound and fury, often too loud and fast to let us see what‘s going on in her head or where it‘s coming from.

The show’s most successful moments are all about connecting: the chilling ensemble of the Weird Sisters (Moya O‘Connell, Nicola Correia-Damude, and Hilary Strang doubling), sometimes in masks, looking like black birds of prey; Douglas Campbell directly engaging the audience with his rich, musical baritone as the Porter; Malcolm (Torquil Campbell) and Macduff (Todd Thomson in a moving performance) speaking simply to each other when the rightful heir tests Macduff’s loyalty. Paul Moniz de Sa also does nice work as Banquo.

Typical of this production are Noah Drew’s sound effects They are often haunting, sometimes comically literal (an extremely hoarse raven), and twice--when we hear the hoof-beats of galloping horses--almost Pythonesque.

Jerry Wasserman

last updated: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 8:15 PM
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