Macbeth | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Macbeth, LiveWire Theater and Chicago Dance Crash, at Stage Left Theatre. Shakespeare's shortest tragedy is so uneven--every scene without the title character is of dubious interest--that an hour-long condensation like this one is not unthinkable. What's strange is that director Chris Arnold retains the tedious Malcolm-Macduff scene and cuts Macbeth's "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" soliloquy. Given the performances, however, it's just as well. Minimalist in ways that LiveWire never intended, this mini Macbeth is more convincing in its spectacle than its speeches. Aiming for a kind of ritualistic movement, the ten actors--decked out in black tops and plaid skirts and pantaloons--are best when fighting or carrying corpses. At times this production feels like a fever dream where the only light is heat, reducing the Scottish tragedy to one crazy mood swing after another.

Slaughtered along with the Scots, the text is almost incomprehensible because the players don't comprehend it. Apparently hoping that instinct will compensate for a lack of technique, they pounce on words, believing that false emphasis will pass for eloquence. Since they don't know what they mean, we gradually stop listening. The witches' scenes come off least badly, perhaps because the incantations were never meant to make sense. As Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Tim MacGregor and Cheryle Caplinger have memorized their lines but not invested their hearts.

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