Like the famous “voodoo Macbeth,” the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival’s kabuki production of the Scottish play stresses dark magic, but the ritual elements that director Kim McCann (with the assistance of Brian Rivera, an able Macbeth) has taken from the traditional Japanese Noh theater are a wonderful innovation. The “weird sisters”—three witches in the traditional productions—serve a wider variety of roles in this version. Behind Kabuki masks for most of the play, these spirits (well played by Chaentell Nadine Munn, Stephanie McCall and Sarah Rowland) cast a long shadow over the drama with their powerful, chaotic vision.
The open set allows for quick pacing, so this shortest of plays moves with even more alacrity. Laura Kaya’s Lady Macbeth strikes a lovely note of power-madness early on, foreshadowing her madness to come. Rivera’s Macbeth waffles at just the right moments, leaving us to wonder if it was indeed sorcery that made him a murdering tyrant or if the sisters merely conjured up his wished-for opportunity.Despite some difficulties with the sound, it’s certainly a refreshing take on a play that continues to offer new ways of looking at power and ambition. Take a sweater and a cushion and enjoy good Shakespeare without breaking the bank—or driving too far.