Macbeth | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Macbeth, Footsteps Theatre Company.

This troupe maintains its standard of excellence in yet another unisex staging of a classic play. Its current production, Shakespeare's Macbeth, focuses not on any male-female questions but on a few eternal and genderless distinctions. There's the dirty fighter Macbeth, who murders friend and foe, women and children, killing them in their sleep or through hired assassins. And then there's the clean fighter Macduff, who is no less violent in action or emotion but permits his enemy a swift, humane death. And later, in a scene added by director Jean Adamak, he refuses to slaughter his enemy's infant son.

Alison C. Vesely as Macbeth delivers the most familiar texts as if they were new minted, depicting a character helpless to resist the amoral urging of his social-climbing wife (played by Rebecca Covey as a Dallas dropout, an impression heightened by her Victoria's Secret nightie in the sleepwalking scene). Eclipsing both, however, is Theresa Harrison-Parkes as Macduff: her careful blend of laconic resolution and passionate fury commands our attention from her first entrance.

Not all of Adamak's innovations are successful: the song-and-dance cauldron scene resembles a music video, and a scene hinting at an adulterous affair between Ross and Lady Macduff is likewise annoying. But the finely tuned performances of Vesely and Harrison-Parkes and the thrilling battle scenes by fight choreographer Dawn Alden make this production every bit as spectacular as any Mel Gibson or Liam Neeson big-screen epic.

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