It’s a production, writes reviewer Naomi Siegel, that “oozes, drips and squirts forth a river of crimson horror.”
This must be fun, one presumes, for the large and talented cast melodramatically sporting the ketchup-colored goop, but how about the backstage minions who have to make stage, costumes and actors pristine before the next blood bath?
Taking its cue from the Grand Guignol tradition and with magic tricks courtesy of Teller, the play, co-produced with the Folger Theater in Washington, revels in the ghoulish and the bizarre. When one of the Weird Sisters is run through with a sword, the body disappears into thin air. Lady Macbeth, in her sleepwalking scene, bloodies herself with a mere swipe of her hand.
Lest anyone get the wrong impression from those excerpts, Siegel finds much to admire:
As the last of the four so-called great tragedies and perhaps the darkest, Macbeth is also one of the shortest of Shakespeares plays. The co-directors Teller and Posner have paced the performance at a clip, injecting the drama with a coursing inevitability that leaves free will in the lurch.
Mr. Posner has been quoted as saying that Macbeth often flounders under the weight of its own self-importance. By casting Ian Merrill Peakes as the equivocating, tormented villain-hero and Kate Eastwood Norris as his unsexed, demonically possessed wife, he has avoided portentiousness and added a certain humane banality. The muscular, athletic Mr. Peakes (his swordplay, choreographed by Dale Anthony Girard, is hair-raising) uses his self-conscious sneer and habit of nervously scratching his head and thigh to suggest a man who is uncomfortable in his role as evil incarnate.
Daniel Conway has designed a setting, strikingly lighted by Thom Weaver, that references both Louise Nevelson and Diego Giacometti in its sculptural forms. Its a knockout. So is the brilliant onstage percussion of Kenny Wollesen. Then theres the Knock-knock! Whos there? routine of Eric Hissom as the Porter. Even if Shakespeares bumbling porters leave you cold, this splash of sunshine in an evening shrouded in red and black proves a welcome diversion.