Review: ‘Macbeth’ in sex, dirt and death

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By William Shakespeare
Directed by Peter Evans
Bell Shakespeare
The Playhouse, until June 2.

Reviewed by Simone Penkethman

BELL Shakespeare played “Macbeth” with blood, sex, dirt and death in a dark and beautiful world.

A dimly lit set of earth and grass evoked a bleak and timeless Scotland. Above, where a sky might have been, was a dull, reflective surface. In it, the players moved overhead as blurred reflections of themselves.

The three witches were condensed into one erotically charged Sbyl (Lizzie Schebesta). Her fluid, expressive movement and electronically manipulated voice exuded a heady mix of danger and vulnerability. Kate Mulvany (who also played Cassius in Bell’s 2011 “Julius Caesar”) was a powerful and highly sexual Lady Macbeth. A sense of fragility gave depth and complexity to her journey from love and ambition to madness.

The choreography sharpened the comic relief and added poignant beauty to monologues and soliloquies. There were also times when it seemed to slow the momentum of the plot and the natural flow of dialogue.

The casting of this production was flawless. Colin Moody’s solid, dark Duncan was a telling contrast to Dan Spielman’s wiry and malleable, red-headed Macbeth. Gareth Reeves’ Banquo personified a masculine energy so strong it matched the witch’s feminine power.

Adding irony to tragedy, the Macbeths are Shakespeare’s most loving couple. Their descent into murder and death was powerfully and stylishly replayed.

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