Review: Macbeth

SN&R reviews a new production from Big Idea Theatre

Photo courtesy of yarcenia garcia

Macbeth; 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; $12-$22. Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 960-3036; Through October 28.
Rated 4.0

“Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble,” chant the three witches in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, famously, as they conjure up prophecies of succession. It’s these three shadowy figures who inspired Big Idea Theatre to stage the Scottish play during the dark and spooky Halloween season, according to Director Scott Divine.

The haunting imagery is apparent as soon as you walk into the already darkened theater and are greeted by a large tree adorned with skulls, cobwebs and flickering lanterns. There’s a full moon, as well as video clips of movies and TV shows including The Twilight Zone, The Adams Family and Night of the Living Dead. Though the clips set up the production to be campy, this is still a dead-serious play—emphasis on “dead”—the fate of most the characters.

The cast of this Macbeth is fully committed, with a powerful Steven Campbell as Macbeth, who reminds us that you don’t want to mess with this general guided by raw ambition and poked along by a plotting wife. Campbell commands the stage and makes Shakespeare’s dense language and cadence feel natural—always a challenge in the Bard’s work. Some cast members are more at ease than others with the delivery, but all make their characters believable.

The costumes, sound effects and simple staging add to the powerful story­—though keeping the darkened ambiance throughout would have strengthened the narrative instead of switching to some fully lit scenes.

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays, but it still manages to tell a big story of political and physical backstabbing, bloody battles and blind ambition. It’s not subtle, and some may find traces of themes from present-day politics, where power and paranoia marry to create a dangerous combination.