The Column Online



By William Shakespare

Lakeside Community Theatre

Director Dale Moon
Assistant director Ellen Bell
Stage Manager Andrew Bryan
Scenic and Lighting Design Benjamin Keegan Arnold
Costume, Make-Up and Hair Design Isabell Moon & Dale Moon
Property Design & Fight Choreography Dakoda Taylor
Sound Design Lindy Englander & Dale Moon


Macbeth Alex Rain
Lady Macbeth Kathleen Vaught
MacDuff Benjamin Keegan Arnold
Lady Macduff, Seyton Melissa Karol
Banquo Autumn McNamara
First Witch Robyn Mead
Second Witch Catherine Valoon
Third Witch Nicole Cisneros
Duncan Pamela Cowser
Malcolm Kallie Scott
Ross Stephen Hyatt
Lennox Crystal Stroessner
Porter, Doctor, Attendant to Duncan, Murderer Fred Patterson
Siward, Old Woman, Servant Nancy Lamb
Fleance, Young Siward, Attendant to Duncan Andrew Brown
Sergeant, Menteith, Murderer Camden Riefler
Donalbain, Caithness, Muderer Andrew Derasaugh
Angus, Lord, Murderer Isabell Moon
Child of Macduff, Gentlewoman, Servant, Apparitions Jordan Ivie

Reviewed Performance: 2/29/2020

Reviewed by Mildred Austin, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Okay. Last night I watched Lakeside Theatre in the Colony take on a giant: Shakespeare’s MACBETH! Taking on any Shakespeare is taking on a giant, but MACBETH is a giant among giants. The heart of the play has not suffered from age in any way. A man corrupted by the tragic flaws of ambition, greed and an appetite for power is our tragic hero. Although it is his heart containing the flaw, he succumbs finally to the greater lust and greed of a woman, his heartless wife. He has only to reveal to her the prophesy of the witches that he will be king of Scotland and Lady Macbeth’s own greed and lust is fired up and she sets out to see that the prophesy is fulfilled. Acting together, the two bring down a king and the slaughter of many in attempts to cover up the initial crime. Melodrama and tragedy married in the shortest of Shakespeare’s tragedies and brilliantly compressed even further to appeal to modern audiences, Lakeside’s production succeeds in bringing to the stage what we so seldom see any more: Shakespeare tackled head-on.

Just a bit about the play here. It is set in medieval Scotland and was thought to have been first performed in 1606. Shakespeare’s source for the story is the account of MACBETH, KING OF SCOTLAND, MACDUFF and DUNCAN in HOLLINSHED’S CHRONICLES (1587), a history of England, Scotland and Ireland familiar to Shakespeare and his contemporaries. However, apparently the play differs significantly from the history and it is reported that the tragedy is most often associated with the execution of Henry Garnet for complicity in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 ( remember Guy Fawkes?). Let’s just say the reign of James I, with whom Shakespeare seems to have been closely aligned, was a time filled with intrigue, murder, treason and a lot of drawing, quartering and hanging.

Director Dale Moon’s Lakeside MACBETH is rough and rustic in both costume, set and tone. Lighting adds the appropriate demonic atmosphere which surrounds the play. The set design did create a phenomenon which I have to assume was intended and pushed the actors into spinning circles like a roller rink. I can come up with a justification for that, the tightening web Macbeth is weaving about himself which will eventually lead to his undoing. But I’m not sure that would truly justify the circling. It was interesting to watch but I didn’t feel it enhanced the movement of the play. Same thoughts about the set. Sometimes it’s difficult to know if something just didn’t work the way it should have or if the concept was off. If pieces of the set were designed to fall away at critical plot points, I’m fine with that, as it can equal Macbeth’s deteriorating mental and emotional condition. If that’s the intended, then I would say go for it, have the whole thing deconstruct as our tragic hero deconstructs as well. On the other hand, if it was ghostly misadventures, then it oviously needs attending to.

I appreciated very much the rustic look of the costumes, coupled with modern camouflage to set the idea of a people almost constantly warring in some way or another. I wondered why the decision to stay away from the traditional plaid (the shawl, not the tartan) which was worn unbelted, actually, in this time period, although it could have been belted with no huge discrepancy. It was the plaid which eventually may have morphed in part to the kilt, but the plaid almost screams Scotland! Some of the character’s costumes, I felt, worked great, but others detracted looking too modern. Directors and costumers must be cautious when they feel they have latched on to a great idea that they don’t overuse it on characters where it doesn’t really belong and doesn’t add to the story. Two costumes, however, that I felt made those great statements about the character wearing them were Macbeth’s long fur coat he dons for the dinner party to celebrate his ascension to the throne. Wow! Big statement perfect on a big character and a physically big actor who pulled it off! The second was Lady Macbeth’s red gown with a touch of fur at the neck. A big change from previous costumes and, again, a big statement: QUEEN! Plus I loved the costume of the Apparition who moved so silently in and among all the action!

This brings me to the makeup. I'm not sure if the painted faced were a reflection of BRAVEHEART, but I hope not, as it is pretty widely accepted that in spite of the Academy Award for makeup in that film, most make-up artists were disgusted by that recognition. One source even felt that Mel Gibson's make-up was basically homage to our modern athletic contests where fans do very similar face painting. There was basically no connection to medieval Scotland, the setting for William Wallace and his rebellion.

On the other hand, and I believe, the more likely hand, in Lakeside's production, the face painting may have harked back to the Picts. This was an Iron Age group of tribes who were eventually absorbed into what would become Scotland. Little is known about this group of people and the Romans may have referred to them as "picts" because this was a word used for people with tatoos and paintings, which the Romans thought marked them as riff raff. But I don't see a reason or justificaton for pushing the setting of Macbeth back that far in time. Or painting them as primitive and archaic as the Picts (no pun intended). Make up and costume should always move the story along and with just a few exceptions in this production I thought the face paintings a distraction. The witches, obviously, are one exception, and oddly I thought their make up and costume could have benefitted from even more exaggeration.

My critic hat, however, is off to the actors who tackled the roles of this great tragedy. It is daunting to deliver the iambic pentameter poetry and convey meaning to modern audiences. Macbeth is written, as are most of Shakespeare's plays, in this verse form. However, interestingly, the witches have one of the most famous speeches in the show and it is written in trochaic tetrameter, the exact opposite of the iambic. Instead of ten beats per line, the tetrameter is eight. So what we hear is a chant that sounds eerily different from everything else in the show.

Another big challenge to a local theatre of presenting Shakespeare is the number of characters and the number of men needed. Moon is adept in this production having his minor characters taking on multiple roles and women taking on several of the tradidional male roles, notably Duncan, Banquo and Malcolm. But this is not necessarily a bow to necessity so much as challenging audience expections especially when it comes to female performers. Actresses have long claimed their right to roles like Hamlet. Sarah Bernhardt's 1899 performance of that role takes its place in a long tradition, just recently enhanced by Maxine Peake in her performance at Manchester's Royal Exchange in 2014. This practice seems to be gaining vitality, especially as our society's ideas about gender as challenged and expressed. All that to say I was fine with the women in men's roles in this production. Pamela Cowser as Duncan was outstanding as the King who falls to Macbeth's murderous ambition. Her carriage and delivery was king like in every way.

Autumn McNamara was another actress who tackled the role of Banquo and was very strong in vocal and physical delivery.

And a third was Kallie Scott who gave life to the youthful Malcolm. A bit more strength could be called for, but I feel Scott will gain that strength as she goes.

The witches are, of course, three of the choiciest parts in the play and there are many ways a director can approach their interpretations. Moon, I think, wisely chose to separate the First Witch from the other two by costume and overall look and manner. In this production she is almost the "Mamma Witch" who holds court with the other witches looking on in awe and admiration. I liked their costumes and make-up but did think that envelope could have been pushed much more so they in no way resembled the other characters in the play.

Here I want to add a special "hats off" to Fred Patterson for his outstanding performance as the Porter. Patterson took his time with his character and every word, gesture and facial expression moved the story along for the audience.

To those actors who took on multiple minor roles: servants murderers, etc. I was especially attentive to you and compliment all on taking their roles as serious and necessary to the succes of the overall production. None "zoned" out of character while onstage and believe me, it only takes one to do that and the attention of the audience can be lost. Minor characters provide onstage energy that supports the rest of the cast, and this group last night was in th moment all the time. I would, however, caution everyone to be very careful that you stay in your character as you exit the stage. Not just until you reach the curtain, but until you are out of sight.

Special mention to Jordan Ivie, who took on several roles, but in particular her appearance as the Apparition was spectacular. The staging of the witches and the Apparations as a cauldron was so breathtaking and an ingenious way to present that scene. That entire scene is unforgettable and a highlight in the production.

Also want to mention especially Nancy Lamb in one of her multiple roles I particularly enjoyed: the servant. I had to wonder if Lamb's inspiriatio was possibly Dobby the Elf from the HARRY POTTER SERIES? First thing that came to my mind. Lamb was so adept at keeping her characters totally different and separate!

Benjamin Keegan Arnold fills the stage literally and as the character of McDuff. He suffers hideously from Macbeth's greed and ambition and eventually ousts him from his ill-gotten kingdom. Arnold roars and his grief and anguish spill out everywhere, but with the control necessary to make him real to us.

I have saved Lady Macbeth and her ill-omened husband to the end as they construct the basis of the entire play. Kathleen Vaught as Lady McBeth is at her best as she seduces and slithers into her husband's soul and convinces him to kill the king and ascend to the throne himself. We hold no illusions about this wife. Vaught makes it plain to us that these aspirations are hers for herself. She is Eve holding the apple out to Adam. And when Vaught appears at the banquet in that red dress, the audience literally gasped at the synchronicity of the gown of a queen in the color of blood.

Alex Rain as Macbeth is the hero who falls to earth not because he listened to his wife, but because he harbored within him the desires of ambition and the willingness to bring those desires to fruition. Rain is at times both thoughtful and thoughtless. He adequately grasps and portrays both sides of the coin that is Macbeth. He fills the stage with rage and fear and regret. The banquet scene where he encounters Banquo's ghost is Rain at his best, pinging about a pinball table of emotions as he begins to tip over the edge and gives himself away to the others. However, I so sorry about the face marking on Macbeth as it served only to rob the audience of any view of the actor's eyes, which are so important. If that was intentional I failed to see the relevance. Rain is too good an actor to handicap him in that respect.

Thank you Lakeside for tackling this giant and granting audiences the opportunity to see what is so rarely offered anymore: good actors stepping out of their comfort zone to let us into the world of William Shakespeare.

Lakeside Community Theatre
P.O. Box 560413
The Colony, TX 75056
Onstage February 28, 2020--March 14 2020
Fridays 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
General Seating $15.00
LCT Member $10.00
Senior $12.00