MACBETHBy William Shakespeare
Adapted by: R. Andrew Aguilar & Cody Lucas
Director – Jason Leyva
Assistant Director – Dr. Mann Hanson
Stage Manager – Steve Cave
Lighting Design – Branson White
Sound Design – Danny Bergeron
Set Design – Jason Leyva
Costume Design – Ryan Matthieu Smith
Fight Choreography – Jeff Colangelo
Dance Choreography – Amy Cave
Macbeth – R. Andrew Aguilar
Lady Macbeth – Dayna S Fries
Macduff – Henry Okigbo
Lady Macduff – Kathryn Lambert
Banquo – Shane Beeson
Seyton – Chris Lew
Ross – Erika Larson
Duncan – John Pfaffenberger
Malcolm – Caleb Pieterse
Head Witch – Ryan Matthieu Smith
2nd Witch – Kennedy Brooke Styron
3rd Witch – Alle Mims
1st Murderer – Joshua Hahlen
2nd Murderer/Ensemble – Michael E. Spencer
Assistant/Ensemble – Jessica Smoot
Siward/Ensemble – Caitlin Campbell
Doctor/Ensemble – Courtney Mentzel
Sergeant/Ensemble – Jon Garrard
Fleance/Ensemble – Jake Bullock
Porter/Ensemble – Robert Dullnig
Ensemble – Stephanie Campbell
Reviewed Performance: 6/9/2017
Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The lighting design is one to be expected at a rock concert instead of a theatrical production. Rotating lights, just enough illumination to see what’s happening but not enough for great detail, and dense fog effects all contribute to the encapsulating effect of the production. The audience isn’t merely watching a play but transported to a different experience all together. However, about 20 to 30% less fog might be beneficial to the performance.
The set is delightfully simple, with a platform atop a stage spanning wall, with a single sliding door entrance. The entire wall rests upstage. A stump on a moving, rotating platform serves as a rudimentary throne of Scotland. The scenic elements are painted dark colors with drippings of bright red all over, foreshadowing and highlighting the bloody scenes throughout the play.
With the exception of the Witches, the costumes for Macbeth are simple but effective. Most people are dressed in black with elements of white or metal thrown in. Each character, even in the ensemble, has their own style but all follow the monochromatic theme and work together well. Lady Macbeth is often clothed in red as she ruminates on the bloody deeds to be done but is wrapped in white after her death. The “Weird Sisters” on the other hand take inspiration from well known “wildling” characters and fairies. Kennedy Brooke Styron and Alle Mims are in the face paint, furs, and tatters we expect with such magical creatures, while Ryan Matthieu Smith dug into Drag culture, presenting a lion like character.
The monumental sound design is tasked to Danny Bergeron. It seems there is some noise underscoring the entire show, even if no sound is present. Many phrases of dialogue are highlighted with accompanying sound of knocks or wind or a screech. There are some hiccups where sound effects drown out already difficult to understand dialogue. However, these instances are few and forgivable. The pre-show and intermission are non-traditional, going without music but what could be the soundtrack to a haunted house, including the creepy sounds of number stations. Most impressive is the musical rendition of the Act IV Scene 1 witches’ speech to Macbeth, which opens Act II of this production. It’s a fantastic mix of sights and sounds that convey a piece of Macbeth’s growing madness.
R. Andrew Aguilar tackles the role of Macbeth. As half of the adaptation team responsible for the script, Aguilar is more familiar with his character than some in the cast seem. He swings, wildly, from uncertainty to violence to manic laughter with ease. As the central figure his performance is intense but not as captivating as the witches.
Lady Macbeth is exceptionally well presented by Dayna S. Fries. She’s sultry and persuasive as she lays out a plan to murder Duncan. Fries gives a perfectly crazed “Out damn spot” speech after Lady Macbeth is overcome with the stress of holding on to the power of the throne and the guilt of murder, while watching her husband delve deeper and deeper into mental instability.
The ensemble serves as a Greek chorus, filling in for minor roles and augmenting the authoritarian theme. They’re heavy, marching footsteps fills the air through scene changes. Creepy whispers come from the group, a peak into Macbeth’s broken psyche. Individually, Robert Dullnig gives a great comedic speech as the porter, and Caitlin Campbell has a great dialogue exchange and sword fight with R. Andrew Aguilar. However, Joshua Hahlen is too meek as the first murderer and borders on inaudible as he mumbles through his speeches. Also, Jon Garrard sets the play in motion well with the opening scene as the Sergeant.
The three witches, Ryan Matthieu Smith, Kennedy Brooke Styron, and Alle Mims, are great to watch as they are ever present voyeurs throughout the show. The odd, fluid movements and colorful costumes separate them from the rest of the show and serve as a constant reminder of the characters other-worldliness. Their constant presence adds a new level of depth to the script as the audience must question if Macbeth’s downfall is his own doing or predetermined by fate. Are the witches just watchers or is their vigilance to ensure the prophetic outcome?
Macbeth is a certified classic of English literature and can be imagined in countless ways. Jason Leyva’s grungy rock-show concept exceeds expectations in style and accessibility. Everyone who enjoys a high-concept production will love this show.
LIP Service Productions
At Firehouse Theatre
2535 Valley View Ln
Farmers Branch, TX 75234
Runs through June 24th
Performances are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8pm.
Tickets are $20 for General Admission 1 or $40 for General Admission 2.
For tickets and information, visit www.lipserviceproductions.info or call their box office at (817) 689-6461.