Cleveland, Ohio — For theater enthusiasts, sitting in the Globe Theatre to bask in the words of the Bard as they were intended holds endless appeal. Luckily, one needn’t travel back 400 years to observe Shakespeare performed traditionally when Great Lake Theater’s “Macbeth” is a production that the Bard himself would surely endorse.
Macbeth (Lynn Robert Berg), thane of Glamis, aspires to be a thane no more when he’s told by three witches (Laura Welsh Berg, Jodi Dominick and Meredith Lark) that he is destined to be king of Scotland. Driven by ambition and madness, Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth (Erin Partin) take matters into their own, soon to be bloodied, hands.
After dethroning King Duncan (David Anthony Smith), Macbeth is determined to keep the crown upon his head by eliminating all threats, including his friend Banquo (Jonathan Dyrud) and his son, Fleance (Jake Spencer). But when it is prophesized that Macduff (Nick Steen) will be Macbeth’s undoing, the king becomes more murderous and mad than before.
Producing artistic director Charles Fee directed Great Lake Theater’s “Hamlet” last year, “Macbeth” in 2008 and once again 10 years later in this current production. While Shakespeare’s work is often reconceived and staged within different time periods or settings, the production on GLT’s stage pays homage to the original work.
Russell Metheny’s set design is a wooden, balcony-like structure created to resemble the Globe Theater. By providing seating for audience members upon the stage, the actors are surrounded on all sides. The solid and traditional structure places emphasis on the acting to create setting. And the acting is truly superb.
Berg’s Macbeth is remarkably dark and introspective. His stature upon the stage is commanding and his movements thoughtful. Berg delivers the dialogue that is at first laced with self-doubt, but as Macbeth’s madness comes into fruition, the self-doubt is replaced with menace that is delivered hauntingly when Berg deepens his voice.
Dyrud is extremely likable and fatherly as Banquo and Steen is perfectly heroic and noble as the usurper Macduff. Dominick, Lark and Berg are creepy and ominous as the three prophetic witches. Dressed as pterodactyl-like crows, the three women are haunting visions. Erin Partin is just as powerful playing Lady Macbeth. She is a commanding and an authoritative force totally capable of taking charge when needed.
A few other impressive Shakespearean actors on stage are Andrew May, Dougfred Miller and Aled Davies.
Rick Martin’s lighting design utilizes red and green during monologues exploring greed and envy. Stark white light and candle light is also beautifully integrated into this tragedy. Matthew Webb’s sound design supplies intense drumming to usher each well-paced scene into the next.
Kim Krumm Sorenson provides the cast with pleated kilts and period appropriate clothing integrated with chain-link armor while Ken Merckx’s entertaining fight choreography employs the use of traditional looking weaponry. Hydraulic traps and dry ice are used for some entrances and exits, and though it isn’t quite Shakespearian, it is exquisitely dramatic.
While we can’t go back in time to see original productions of Shakespeare, Great Lake Theater’s “Macbeth” proves that traditional Shakespeare is still accessible today. And it is still magnificent.
WHERE: The Hanna Theatre,2067 E. 14th St., Cleveland
WHEN: Through April 15
TICKETS & INFO: $13-$80, call 216-241-6000 or visit greatlakestheater.org
Photo: The cast of “Macbeth.” Photo by Roger Mastroianni.