Good Times, Posted on August 12
By Christina Waters
Odd choices mar Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s atmospheric ‘Macbeth’
Handsome costumes, electrifying sound and light effects, and Shakespeare’s finest language all meet in Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a true theatrical witch’s brew. When the hurly burly’s done, casting innovations result in many interesting and challenging moments in this final play of the SCS season.
After suffering the untimely cancellation of its preview night run-through—due, ironically, to a thunderstorm—the production opened in the Festival Glen with its own salvo of spectacular lightning and thunder effects. The shortest of Shakespeare’s tragic plays, Macbeth took only three hours to unfold its tale of vaulting ambition and overpowering guilt. Rife with matchless dialogue, the play also comes with its own historic context—and its own requisite suspensions of everyday reality.
Perhaps 21st century audiences can no longer entertain notions of enchantment involving mysterious and magical figures on misty moors, nor can they easily suspend disbelief about prophetic visions. At least the opening night audience of this production seemed unable to fall under the spell Macbeth should produce, and, once again—this is becoming a destructive theme with live audiences—nervous and/or simply inappropriate laughter all but destroyed any mood that might have powered the last acts of the play. Instead, thanks to the loud tittering and rattling of bags, bottles, and plastic containers, the play could do little but dwindle its dusty way to conclusion.
Among the highlights was opening night’s eerie prophecy scene, in which the three witches first confront Macbeth and Banquo, changing their fortunes forever. Heightened by electronic sound manipulation, ritualistic movement, and atmospheric effects, the scene was genuinely chilling. …
Tickets on sale now for the 2015 season, which features three outdoor productions, starting with the wickedly romantic Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing, opening July 3; followed by David Ives’s modern adaptation of the wickedly hilarious 17th century farce, The Liar, opening July 24; and Shakespeare’s wicked tragedy, Macbeth, opening August 7. Plus, SCS continues the tradition of its intern-showcasing Fringe production with four performances of the wickedly festive comedy The Rover, starting August 18.