Review: Macbeth (Organic Theater)

| June 16, 2014
Joe Mikieta stars as Macbeth in Organic Theater's "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, directed by Alexander Gelman. (photo credit: Matthew Yee)        
      
Macbeth

Written by William Shakespeare 
Directed by Alexander Gelman
at Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
thru July 6  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
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The Weird Sisters take center stage

     

Jaime Mire, Kendra Holton, and Amanda Jane Long in Organic Theater's "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, directed by Alexander Gelman. (photo credit: Matthew Yee)

    
Organic Theater presents
    
Macbeth

Review by Keith Glab

Organic Theater Company presents its vision of Macbeth in repertory with The Diviners this summer at The Greenhouse Theater Center. The challenge in presenting such a well-known and widely-produced play as this Shakespearean masterpiece lies in putting a unique spin on it without coming off as too contrived.

Joe Mikieta and Amanda Jane Long in Organic Theater's "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, directed by Alexander Gelman. (photo credit: Matthew Yee)One popular tactic to achieve this involves changing the play’s setting. OTC does this rather clumsily by setting the Scottish Play in The Roaring Twenties with their sound design, as well as some indeterminate time later via their costuming. A motif of flash bulb photography again places us back in the late 20s. But even if that era were more clearly established as the setting, their purpose in placing Macbeth there remains uncertain.

This isn’t to say that Organic fails in their effort to put their own stamp on this classic. On the contrary, they enhance it by placing the three Witches (Amanda Jane Long, Jaime Mire and Kendra Holton) onstage for the entire duration. They often serve as unseen puppet mistresses, affecting the corporeal characters by comforting, massaging, or inflicting pain upon them. As the death toll mounts, they casually toss coins into a downstage bucket to keep score.

But that’s not all. With a photographic flash, the witches insert themselves into scenes by assuming the roles of minor characters, often as servants or those inflicting Macbeth’s calculated wrath upon others. The scene in which they slaughter the Macduff family is particularly well done. All of the meddling these Weird Sisters enact pushes Shakespeare’s theme of the inevitability of fate even further. Noticing which events this trio does not instigate themselves becomes as interesting as the ones that they do; in this interpretation, Lady Macbeth’s ambition is all her own.

Anthony Perrella Jr. and Joel Moses in Organic Theater's "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, directed by Alexander Gelman. (photo credit: Matthew Yee)

Long, Mire, and Holton basically steal the show in their enhanced roles. Not only are they given an awful lot to do, but even in the extended periods in which they merely sit onstage and observe, their reactions are authentic and captivating. Their ability to listen closely to their castmates and truly inhabit their characters for the duration of the show is laudable. Their work overshadows some other strong performances form the ensemble, most notably Joe Mikieta as the titular character, Anthony Perrella Jr. as his dispatcher, and Sasha Hatfield in the dual role of Lady Macbeth and the comedic Porter who utters some of the play’s most famous lines.

Far beyond the simple, tired trick of placing a Shakespearean play into a more modern setting, Organic Theater has used clever innovation to change the way we look at the tragedy of Macbeth. Screw your courage to the sticking place and experience it for yourself.

  
Rating: ★★★
  
   

Macbeth continues through July 6th at Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map), with performances in repertory Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30pm, plus Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm.  Tickets are $20, and are available by phone (773-404-7336) or online through Vendini.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at OrganicTheater.info(Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes, includes an intermission)

Kaitlin Henderson in Organic Theater's "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, directed by Alexander Gelman. (photo credit: Matthew Yee)

Photos by Matthew Yee


     

artists

cast

Joe Mikieta (Macbeth), Amanda Jane Long (First Witch), Kaitlin Henderon (Lady Macbeth), Jaime Mire (Second Witch), Kendra Holton (Third Witch), Anthony Perrella Jr. (Macduff), Bryan Wakefield (Banquo), Joel Moses (Malcolm), Nick Roesler (Ross), Sean Thomas (Duncan, Old Siward), Adam Shalzi (Angus, Macduff Boy), Colin Jackson (Donalbain, Lennox, Doctor), Will Burdin (Bloody Sergeant, Fleance, Young Siward), Sasha Hatfield (Lady Macduff, Porter)

behind the scenes

Alexander Gelman (director), Josh Anderson (asst. director), Terrence McClellan (set design), Ryan Breneisen (lighting design), Angela Enos (costumes design), M. Anthony Reimer (sound design), Angela Kring (stage manager), Jose Ochoa (technical director), Matthew Yee (photos)

Kaitlin Henderson and Joe Mikieta in Organic Theater's "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, directed by Alexander Gelman. (photo credit: Matthew Yee)

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Category: 2014 Reviews, Greenhouse Theater Center, Keith Glab, Organic Theatre, Repertory, William Shakespeare

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