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MACBETH, Festival Theatre. Henry Godinez's outdoor staging of the Scottish tragedy is as rough-hewn as the dead limbs and menacing rocks of Geoffrey M. Curley's pseudobarbaric set. Where violence is endemic, it's useless to resist. Kevin Gudahl's Macbeth does try, but he's soon destroyed by a predatory ambition given apparent supernatural sanction. His motivators--three witches and a wife (coldly and sadly played by Lisa Tejero)--open up a killing field for this villain eager to confuse destiny with prophecies.

Festival Theatre's traditional production--its first Macbeth in 25 years of Shakespeare under the stars--drives home the bitter isolation that comes with illicit power. Macbeth murders more than sleep; he exposes Scotland to horrors once unthinkable, now common. Against that extreme, the stalwart, energetic performances of Brian Hamman and Ned Mochel as the good guys seem so much sound and fury. Only at the end does Mochel's Macduff rise to Macbeth's savage vigor. Less successful is Godinez's idea of having Lady Macbeth play the messenger who warns Lady Macduff of her coming killers: by this point the wicked wife is crazed with guilt and confined to the castle.

Barbara Niederer's competent costumes range from hideous masks for the weird sisters to sumptuous but ill-gotten robes for the Macbeths. David Gipson's lighting separates the occult from the ordinary. Macbeth may face new enemies here--noise from jet planes, dogs, boom cars, sirens, firecrackers, and an ice cream truck--but you can't keep a bad man down. --Lawrence Bommer

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