A lusty retelling from a lady’s point of view
|Side Project Theatre presents|
Review by K.D. Hopkins
The question is: Why a re-visioning of Macbeth? Might this be a politically-correct update of why Lady Macbeth wandered the halls in somnambulant delusions? Or could it be that she was not the only one complicit with Macbeth in the murderous slaughter that took place at Dunsinane? Adaptor/Director Laley Lippard gives a new twist on the matter, implicating that Lady Macbeth is actually one of the trio of witches that portent the horror to Thane Macbeth. This is a lusty retelling that gives more power to the sensuality that women represented in Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy.
Kristi Webb, as Lady M, gives another layer to psychosis and paranoia on stage. Webb has the ten thousand mile stare of a woman unraveling and the physicality of the role is worthy of horror film special effects. Webb takes the character through a spiral of copulative murder, blood lust, and a truly eerie keening that locks her body in a frozen Kabuki scream. She and Macbeth (Corey Noble) have a pulsing chemistry that gives credence to being partners in crime and madness. I have heard the ‘tomorrow’ soliloquy countless times; Noble delivers it with piquant madness as his plotting lies in ruins.
The fight choreography and the cast are top notch. There were gasps in the audience during some of the battles as the actors slammed themselves about the stage and into walls. Banquo (Brian E. Crawford) slithers from under the banquet table and lithely metastasizes himself into the king’s paranoid consciousness. It is fun to watch in a way that one like to get the hell scared out of them.
An interesting choice is having male actors playing the other female roles of the Sisters and Nurse. Possibly an homage to Shakespeare’s times when only men were allowed on the stage, this casting also adds a layer of homoeroticism to this work that is more to the fore. The Sisters (Ryan Czerwonko and Mike Steele) are given more depth than simply cooking up amulets and hallucinogenic broths. The term ‘sister’ has a Sapphic layer that is played very well by Czerwonko and Steele. They appear throughout the play to see their handiwork and revel in their power. It is both sensual and vile to see a Sister lick the blood of the murdered Banquo. Czerwonko and Steele don aspirator masks to play the Doctor and Nurse observing Lady Macbeth as she sleepwalks. The masks act as a visible change of character and conversely to make the characters invisible.
Jeff Kurysz (MacDuff) and Noble have another memorable battle wherein MacDuff chokeholds Macbeth to death. It is just as visceral as a beheading thanks to the excellent staging and physicality of the actors.
In the end, I felt less ambivalence toward the character of Lady Macbeth. Where once I interpreted her as a pawn of the patriarchy, she is given more power of choice in Lady M., and it makes for a compelling re-visioning of the story.
Lady M continues through February 6th at Side Project Theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis (map), with performances Sunday-Wendesdays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 4pm. Tickets are $15-$20, and are available online at BrownPaperTickets.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at TheSideProject.net. Note: As Lady M contains violence and mature depictions of sexuality, I recommend this for audiences 16 and up. (Running time: 90 minutes without intermission)
Photos by Scott Dray
behind the scenes
Laley Lippard (adaptor, director), Stephen Gawrit (sound design), Shelby Glasgow (stage manager), Jeff Glass (lighting design), Dustin Pettegrew (set, props, technical direction), Brian Ruby (production coordinator), Adam Webster (artistic director), Scott Dray (photos)