Review: We Happy Few’s ‘Macbeth’ during Capitol Hill Arts Workshop

Taking their seats in a black box theater, a assembly is confronted with 3 stationary total cloaked in chiaroscuro, as small, gold-leafed design frames faintly simulate little boxes of light. A minimalist design plays over a repeating chord march for several mins until a doorway shuts, and from each dilemma a overlapping rhyming debate of 3 discarnate witches are heard. Finally, a lights lift and Duncan (Dylan J. Fleming), King of Scotland, receives news of how dauntless Macbeth has put down a rebellion led by a bloody Macdonwald, disemboweling a knave by slicing him “from a nave to a chops.”

Raven Bonniwell and Danny Cackley in We Happy Few’s ‘Macbeth.’ Photo by Mark Williams Hoelscher.

It is maybe since a story of and superstitions surrounding Macbeth are so apparent (the supposed “Scottish Play” had been my initial introduction to Shakespeare as a nine-year-old) that We Happy Few’s stripped-down prolongation now using during Capitol Hill Arts Workshop is so effective. With usually 5 actors personification mixed roles and dress changes mostly being a many minimal donning or doffing of a jacket, cincture or span of spectacles, a assembly does have to compensate courtesy to these shifts, yet a courteous assembly member is good rewarded.

Director Hannah Todd’s instrumentation of this, a shortest of Shakespeare’s tragedies, is careful and lean, clocking in during only underneath ninety mins yet an intermission. Characters are composited, speeches and whole scenes are cut, yet a outcome is same to an orchestral square organised for a cover song quintet. Creative solutions to safeguard a critical themes and movements are played, and in a process, a middle design is revealed.

Todd, thankfully, has fabricated a able garb of players. As Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Danny Cackley and Raven Bonniwell during a opening benefaction a integrate who arrangement no apparent aspiration towards assassination. Instead, they fondle with a idea, conspiring playfully as many friends and couples do, never severely awaiting to truly spin partners in crime until a unfolding they’ve been devising has simply spin too intriguing not to obey to now that a event exists. It’s a utterly nuanced and fascinating pas de deux. They seem so artless until they have already insincere energy and intend to reason on to it utterly since they can not take a risk of relinquishing it.

The rest of a expel utterly ably fills out a crowd of roles. Fleming’s Duncan is a joyful sovereign prepared to spin Shakespeare’s puns into father jokes. As Macduff, Fleming becomes a sorrowful favourite who defers his personal reprisal in an bid to revive Malcolm’s explain on a crown.

Desirée Chappelle, with pointed changes of physique language, alternates between a Duncan loyalist Ross (who has engrossed many of a discourse reserved to a several Scottish Thanes and officers) and a luckless soldier arcane to a witches’ satisfactory and tainted prophecy.

Stefany Pesta mostly plays a younger era of Scotland’s statute category and is utterly enchanting as a Macduffs’ child (dressed in an Adventure Time Lady Rainicorn hoodie) for a bit of back-and-forth with Fleming’s Lady Macduff (in a paring down, Fleming doubles as both Macduffs). As a porter, she transforms a strange knock-knock fun into an alt-comedy anti-joke. Unfortunately, Malcolm’s response to Macduff’s entreaties to revive his dynasty is one of a cuts done to keep a run time. It would have been engaging to see Pesta have a few some-more mins to rise a role.

Bonniwell, Chappelle, Fleming, and Pesta also take their turns personification witches. Once a black is dead, Bonniwell plays a double purpose of Macbeth’s armorer, Seyton, and a English General Siward.

Stefany Pesta in We Happy Few’s ‘Macbeth.’ Photo by Mark Williams Hoelscher.

Sound Designer Ethan Balis’ low-pitched measure is scarcely constant, yet never manipulative. His minimalist arpeggiation does not try to emanate romantic undercurrents (he thankfully leaves that to a actors) yet subtly underlines a essential rhythms of Shakespeare’s poetry.

Lighting Designer Jason Aufdem-Brinke expertly bathes a actors and minimalist set in light and shrouds them shadow, yet many importantly, he avoids cliché in his tone palette. In a play abundant with regicide, infanticide, and other assassinations, it would be an apparent choice to stress red, yet Aufdem-Brinke eschews anything so obvious, relying instead on abounding blues and greens, and holding advantage lead surfaces to move out pinkish and bullion hues.

Most importantly, in this story of murder Fight Director Casey Kaleba is pivotal in creation a assault tell a story. Banquo’s murder is a brutally drawn out beatdown, while a slaying of Lady Macduff and a youngest Macduff is a some-more elaborately striking affair. The blade quarrel between Macbeth and Macduff is a crowning choreographic fulfilment — a suspensefully perplexing method of lunges, blocks, and arm locks.

In some domestic eras, we competence take comfort that a events effect to have occurred opposite an sea many centuries ago. But currently we see a norms of a domestic complement tested and strained, withdrawal Americans, generally those of us whose theater-going practice are present to a internal industry, wondering how many contrast a complement will bear, either coalitions and alliances that once seemed plain will continue to hold. Plots that once featured in a entertainments as calamity scenarios have been rendered passé by a nightly news. But maybe what creates Macbeth many applicable is that these strains seem to come as many from personal paranoia and aspiration as from a strife of ideologies. And of course, yet Malcolm reclaims his father’s throne, Shakespeare’s witches pointedly note that whatever kings branch from his line will eventually be succeeded by a descendants of Banquo and Fleance. The easy norms might not be what we expect. Fair is foul, and tainted is fair.

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission.

Macbeth plays by Mar 30, 2019, during We Happy Few during Capitol Hill Arts Workshop – 545 7th Street SE, Washington, DC. For tickets, squeeze during a venue or sequence online.

Keith Hock, Dramaturgy; Sam Reilly, Stage Management; Moyenda Kulemeka, Costumes; Arnel Sancianco, Visual Design; Emily Sucher, Intimacy Choreography.

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