MACBETHBy: William Shakespeare
Stolen Shakespeare Guild
Directors-Lauren and Jason Morgan
Assistant Director/Dialect Coach—Kierstin Curtis
Fight Choreographer—Richard Stubblefield
Costume Designer—Kari Makoutz
Set Designer—Lauren and Jason Morgan
Lighting Designer—Bryan Douglas
Lady Macbeth—Sonia Justl
Duncan—David M. Graham
Banquo—D. Aidan Wright
Fleance/Third Apparition—Ethan Makoutz
Lady Macduff—Karen Matheny
Macduff’s Son—Daniel Morian
Old Man/Siward—Delmar H. Dolbier
Young Siward—Michael Carver-Simmons
Seyton—Michael Craig Rains
Hecate, Queen of the Witches—Cleo Lissade
First Witch—Jenna Caire
Second Witch—Jessica Taylor
Third Witch—Margaret Vogel
First Murder—James Kazen
Second Murder—Julien Makoutz
Doctor—Robert Bradford Smith
First Apparition—Rebecca Deschner
Second Apparition—Saffron Makoutz
Reviewed Performance: 2/16/2020
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
While the content is very heavy, Macbeth has secured its place in pop culture. From Star Trek and The Simpsons to an obscure 1970’s Disney film, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” Macbeth has made an appearance in many modern mediums, keeping it’s literary importance and story alive. Many people in the theatre often abide by the old theatrical myth and superstition of “the Scottish play,” as they refuse to say the name of the play in a theater, as it brings bad luck to all who utter its name in a theater. Historians often write that this is because of the witchcraft and work of the underworld-not to mention the massive amount of blood and murder within the play. I do subscribe to this legendary theatrical superstition-as I have seen bad things happen to those who frivolously utter the name of “the Scottish play” in a theater.
Directors Lauren and Jason Morgan brought together an ensemble cast who worked well together and collaborated with a crew (scenic, costumes, and lighting) that truly transported the audience back to the traditional setting of Scotland. The Morgan’s overall vision and the concept were very impressive. Often times, as an audience member, and theatrician, I wonder what the concept and vision of a Shakespeare play might be. I have seen some very interesting interpretations of Shakespeare's plays recently. Taking Shakespeare’s plays and giving them a new locale and time period seems to be the “hip and trendy” thing to do. I was pleased to see that the Directors kept the traditionalism of Macbeth consistent and alive for audiences to see. The production was simply staged in a small thrust theater space, with small, yet effective set pieces that did not distract the audience from the complexity of the characters and the plot. Mr. and Mrs. Morgan did a fantastic job of bringing a classic Shakespearean tragedy to life on stage.
Mr. and Mrs. Morgan utilized the intimate thrust and black box theater in an effective, symbolic, and simplistic way. The majority of the production, the audience was very “up close and personal” with the actors and their characters-experiencing firsthand the action of the play, and the intention and motivation of their characters. One of the most impressive details of the scenic design was the ability to manipulate and transform several simple locations into each individual locale within the story. It was designed and executed in a traditional, but simple manner. This is exactly what is needed for a story of such caliber. With a design such as this, it allows the audience to become engrossed with the characters and the story, and not be overwhelmed by unnecessary set pieces. My full attention was on the story-and with a play such as this, it was a welcome experience.
Lighting was designed by Bryan Douglas. Douglas did a fantastic job plotting lighting that was appropriate for each scene and mood. Often times with lighting designers, lighting can be very simple, or very intricate. Mr. Douglas did a fantastic job of creating mood, and emotion with each lighting choice in the play. While overall aesthetically pleasing, one of my biggest observations about the lighting was the darkness in the production. While I do realize that the darkness and dim light might mirror or foreshadow the darkness of the content-especially in Macbeth, it was difficult at times to see the actor’s faces and to see the essential elements of the plot and action.
Kari Makoutz designed costumes that were not only appropriate to the time period but, were full of detail, texture, and color. Each character’s costume was vibrant and allowed the audience to easily keep track of which character was who. In any play such as this, I often find that audiences are trying very hard to follow the old English dialogue, and (at times) lose track of the many characters in the production. Ms. Makoutz made this much easier for audiences, as I was able to follow along and keep each character separate as I associated their wardrobe with their character. I loved the concept and idea of keeping it very traditional.
Richard Stubblefield was incredibly believable in the titular role of Macbeth. Through facial expressions and body language, Stubblefield convincingly portrayed the easily manipulated, yet difficult character of Macbeth. Stubblefield allowed audiences to enter the psyche of Macbeth, while experiences some difficult internal choices that the character was forced to make. It can be difficult to grasp the language, however, Mr. Stubblefield made the dialogue very conversational, and in a manner that modern audiences would understand.
Not only was Mr. Stubblefield phenomenal in the role of Macbeth, but, he also delivered in the role of fight choreographer for the production. From the moment the show began, I was entranced with some wonderfully intricate and perfectly timed fight choreography. The sword fighting was very dramatic and impressive to watch. Mr. Stubblefield certainly has a plethora of talents!
Sonia Justl was phenomenal in the role of Lady Macbeth. With a powerful vocal presence and wonderful dramatic delivery, Ms. Justl portrayed one of the most difficult and evil characters in dramatic literature. Ms. Justl’s best on-stage moment was Lady Macbeth’s monologue in the penultimate scene (“Out damned spot…”) as she descended into insanity with her actions of guilt and her lack of reality. I was very much drawn in her world and watched intently as Ms. Justl intensely played the evilest of evil, a role that all women of the theater aspire to portray.
Another standout was “witches ensemble” led by Queen of the witches, Hecate (played wonderfully by Jenna Caire, Jessica Taylor, Margaret Vogel, and Cleo Lissade). From the moment the production began, I was dramatically connected to the notable characters that prophesize the rise of Macbeth to power in Scotland, and their connection with the devil. The “witch ensemble” was very strong, and left me feeling very uneasy-which is exactly the purpose of their characters. They played off of each other nicely and brought a wonderful sense of unity to the production.
This production of Macbeth is definitely worth seeing. The attention to detail evident in all aspects of this production makes for a wonderful theatrical experience. The production does exactly what the theatre is intended to do - take audiences on a journey, tells a story, and simply entertains-a detail that can sometimes be forgotten in the world of spectacle and technology. Written by one of the greatest playwrights in history, Macbeth is a production that everyone should see. It will leave you with a bit of appreciation on one of the classics, and will also teach you a moral lesson that still carries relevance today.
STOLEN SHAKESPEARE GUILD
1300 Gendy Street
Fort Worth Community Arts Center
Tickets available for Feb. 22 at 8:00 pm, Feb. 27 at 8:00 pm, Feb. 29 at 2:00 pm.
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