Trinity’s Macbeth is a Must-See for Shakespeare Fans, Political Junkies

PROVIDENCE — It’s not your grandmother’s “Macbeth.” Rather, Trinity Rep’s production of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, now onstage through March 3, is a top-notch, new twist on the old “Macbeth,” and a production theater-lovers, Shakespeare fans and students will surely want to see. Trinity doesn’t disappoint when it comes to reinventing the classics, and with “Macbeth,” director Curt Columbus (Trinity’s artistic director) proves once again that a modernist approach can be a superlative, satisfying and meaningful one.

From the moment I saw Witch 2 (Stephen Berenson is one funny witch) nibbling on an unattached arm — dripping with blood — I knew we were in for a wild, bloody and exciting evening of theater. Berenson, stooped over, shuffling and wearing a woolly mop of gray dreadlocks draping down to his shoulders, plays one of the three prognosticating weird sisters, The Witches, who chant the famous and familiar “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble,” lines as they “Round about the cauldron go.”

Joining Berenson’s trio is Janice Duclos as Witch 1 and Jeanine Kane as Witch 3. The three, in their matching black garb and gnarly hair, are as hilarious as they are creepy. Just wait ‘til they start adding the eye of newt and toe of frog to the cauldron, which was actually a vintage white porcelain claw-footed bathtub (full of smoke and spooky people). Yes, there is humor infused in this otherwise horrifying tale of jealousy, ambition and murder. And dismemberment. And beheading. Yes, this is the play featuring “the best of the cutthroats.” Heads will roll.

Mauro Hantman tackles the role of Macbeth with an intense ferocity. He’s shaved his head for the part and is quite lean and trim. We first meet him as he pants away while jogging on a treadmill wearing a suit of armor. Speaking of suits, costume designer Andrew Jean has created some exquisite clothing for the cast. Of the many stellar costumes, there is one I can still see clearly in my mind’s eye: it’s when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (Julia Atwood gives a gripping performance) march around the stage with precision, he wearing a snow white suit and she a stunning, floor-length, blood-red, Grecian-style gown. Such a striking contrast. Atwood, whose eyes widened and spun ever more wildly with each passing scene, is a study in madness. Her sleepwalking, hand-washing scene (“Out, damned spot!”) was excellent. She is superb.

Guest artist Alexander Platt was also superb in the role of Macduff and delivered his lines with strength, clarity and veracity. Stephen Thorne, too, gave a good, solid performance as Banquo. Timothy Crowe is an excellent Duncan, and managed to add some levity while wearing his gangster-ish red velvet dinner jacket and white wig.

Fred Sullivan Jr., who plays Ross, was, as always, stately and engaging. Rachael Warren plays Captain and Lady Macduff.

Unfortunately, I had trouble understanding Aman Soni, who plays Duncan’s son, Malcolm, the newly crowned king of Scotland. And it was up to him to deliver the final lines of the play — about the “dead butcher and his fiend-like queen.”

The spare, open set, with its platforms, overhead balcony and drop-down net, works well, thanks to the talents of Michael McGarty, as does the unusual music — which ranges from disco to electronic to hip-hop. Viraj Gandhi, who plays Hecate and the DJ, sits in a DJ box off-stage but very visible and very much a part of the nightclub set.

Lighting design is by Oona Curley, sound design by Peter Sasha Hurowitz with magic design by Nate Dendy.

So, brush up on your Shakespeare, your history, and your current events and head to Trinity Rep for a “Macbeth” to remember, a “Macbeth” to discuss. “Macbeth” is a timely play, Columbus tells us in his notes, “particularly for our political moment.”

Read the full article here.

Jamil Jude to Direct Dominique Morisseau’s SKELETON CREW At True Colors Theatre Company

Jamil Jude to Direct Dominique Morisseau's SKELETON CREW At True Colors Theatre Company

Artistic Director Kenny Leon and True Colors Theatre Company present Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew beginning this February. Part of Morisseau’s The Detroit Project trilogy, Skeleton Crew, is an insightful drama about the value of work to workers and what happens when their livelihoods are threatened by layoffs. Set in 2008’s Great Recession, Skeleton Crew tells the story of factory workers at the last auto stamping plant in Detroit and their uncertainty as rumors of their plant’s imminent closing stir. Jamil Jude True Colors’ Associate Artistic Director, returns to the director’s chair after a successful run of August Wilson’s King Hedley II last spring.

Read the full article from Broadway World here.

Playing on Air Podcast Featuring RULES OF COMEDY by Patricia Cotter

Caroline can’t find anything funny — not her awkward love life, not her jaded standup coach Guy, and definitely not the punchlines she’s been reading in 101 Dirty Jokes. 

Originally produced at the Humana Festival at the Actors Theater of Louisville, Patricia Cotter‘s RULES OF COMEDY is a playful, wry look at the lives of comedians when they dare to go offstage and off script. Directed by Jonathan Bernstein, Cotter’s short comedy stars Louisa Krause (The Flick, Billions, PoA’s Winter Gamesand Michael Esper (Trust, The Last Ship, PoA’s Anniversary). After the play, stay tuned for an artist interview about the playwright’s background in comedy, avoiding the pull towards bitterness, and toeing the line with your material.

“Cotter’s script is lush with the knowledge of standup comedy… this play is a scream” – Todd Zeigler, Broadway World Reviews

More about Playing on Air here.

“RADIOMAN,” WRITEN BY JAMES MCMANUS, SHOWS VETERANS THE ROAD HOME IS PASSABLE

radioman at del arte

Radioman will run two weeks in January at the Del Arte Theatre in Blue Lake, CA.

Writings by a Humboldt County Vietnam veteran have inspired a play which not only is being produced locally but may be picked up for a much broader audience.

In 1968, Eureka native, Eric Hollenbeck was drafted and sent to Vietnam. He’s since returned and been at the Blue Ox Millworks for nearly five decades.  However, the road home has not necessarily been smooth nor easily traveled.

In 1992, Hollenbeck wrote a series of poems cleansing his soul of some of the grief and memories that came flooding back that weekend.  Those poems were published as “Uncle Sam’s Tour Guide to Southeast Asia.”

Then, through Hollenbeck’s coincidental friendship with producer Lester Grant, playwright James McManus became involved in 2015; and the theatrical production entitled “Radioman” has emerged from those poems and the stories of younger generations of returning veterans as well.

“Radioman” will be showcased at Del Arte Theatre in Blue Lake for two weeks in January. Hollenbeck says the January performances aren’t “Radioman’s” official premier because producers from larger cities will be at the local production to see the play and may opt to “pick it up.”

Read the full article here.

THE HELLO GIRLS: Perky, Pertinent World War I Musical is Welcome!

Review By David Finkle

 

Songwriter Peter Mills—who provides the score for The Hello Girls, just opening with great flair at 59E59 Theatres—has been working quietly for a couple decades now. Considering his enormous talent, he’s been working much more quietly than he deserves.

The Hello Girls isn’t quiet, by any means. It’s a rousing and canny entry at the end of 2018, the #Metoo year. Set in 1918, it’s very much about the Great War, which ended just a few days over a century back. So with a focus on the terrifying war and the active societal equalizing of women, it’s a clever amalgam of something historically pertinent and something contemporarily pertinent.

 

A 1995 Princeton graduate, who was, of course, a Triangle Club member, Mills co-founded the Prospect Theater Company with Reichel and in the intervening years has written the songs (and often written or co-written the book) for several other highly appealing musicals. These include The Flood, which concerns the 1927 Mississippi River disaster and boasts “It’s Amazing the Things That Float,” arguably the most brilliant song composed for a show anytime recently.

Had Mills been dreaming up songs in the mid-20th century, he would likely have been a celebrated Broadway tunesmith, but the closest he’s come to the main Stem so far is The Honeymooners, a musical adaptation of the classic Jackie Gleason sitcom, for which he wrote only the lyrics (Stephen Weiner, the composer). It opened a year ago at the Paper Mill Playhouse and, for reasons only slightly involving Mills, was sufficiently below par not to warrant much more discussion.

 

Read the full review on NewYorkStageReview.com!