Review: Macbeth at Sacramento Theatre Company

Jumping the fence—in the old days, a tree trunk.

Jumping the fence—in the old days, a tree trunk.

Photo courtesy of Sacramento Theatre Company

Showtimes: Wed 7pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 7pm, Sun 2pm. Through 3/18; $15-$35; 1419 H Street; (916) 443-6722;
Rated 5.0

For Sacramento Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, director Casey McClellan says he drew inspiration from paganism and ancient ritual. This is clear from the beginning when the three witches, here representing the Triple Goddess (the maiden, the mother and the crone), perform a lengthy dance and chant before starting the famous “when shall we three meet again” dialogue. It is a dark and spooky scene, setting the stage for the story of an ambitious, power-mad man.

Rather than concentrate on the blood-and-gore aspect of the story, this production focuses on the mental torment experienced by the Macbeths. In fact, the only visible reference to blood was in one costume and in the lighting.

William Elsman, who has given STC many memorable performances, adds the role of Macbeth to his repertoire. As the character becomes giddy with the prospect of ascendancy, Elsman’s Macbeth becomes dark and brooding. The actor brings believability to the complexities of the king who’s hungry for power and simultaneously wracked with guilt. We watch his rapid transformation from an opportunist to someone who has destroyed himself and everything around him.

Atim Udoffia’s Lady Macbeth knows how to push her husband to grab the crown, and how to help him deal with what he must do to get it. “Leave the rest to me,” she says, taking charge of the plans for what must occur. As we later watch her descent into madness, we witness her coming to the realization that crime really doesn’t pay.

One of Shakespeare’s most popular tragedies, done to perfection by STC.