Production is "Full of Sound and Fury"
As I sit here listening to the wind whistling by my window on this dark and foggy Thursday, October 22, it seems an appropriate night to have just seen Powder and Wig's opening show of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, directed by Sean Senior '10. Putting on a Shakespeare production is challenging in and of itself, but the difficulties become more daunting when a cast only has a month of limited rehearsal time. However, this cast and crew completed their task with energy and talent. I only wish Colby had a bigger performance space available than the Cellar Theater so that more people could have seen the achievements of this production. The shows were sold out every night, with many who wanted to watch on the waiting list. However, due to the nature of the small black-box theater, every audience member could be inches away from the action, and action there was! Epic combat scenes, imaginary ghosts, witches' brews and blood everywhere kept the audience on the edge of their seats.
The three lead actors, Andy Bolduc '10 as Macbeth, Lindsey Anderson '10 as Lady Macbeth, and Alex Bassett '10 as Macduff, portrayed their challenging roles with a notable level of intensity and nuance. In his dynamic performance, Bolduc articulated Macbeth's complex psyche as a man who is ambitious and ruthless, but also plagued by doubt and guilt. After murdering Banquo in order to consolidate his own power, Macbeth is wracked with guilt and "sees" Banquo's bloody ghost. In this scene, Bolduc's every line, movement and expression conveyed his character's turmoil. He leapt back, knocking over wine glasses, brandished his sword and began screaming at the empty chair. No one but Macbeth can see the ghost, but Bolduc's performance made me believe a phantom was sitting across from him.
Lindsey Anderson as Lady Macbeth was a stunning murderer's accomplice in her long red dress. Initially more ruthless and stronger willed than Macbeth, convincing him to kill the king, she becomes just as consumed with guilt. In the famous sleepwalking scene, in which Lady Macbeth attempts to wash away the guilt of her crime, Anderson maintained an incredible focus, appearing oblivious to the doctor and the servant occupying the stage with her. She continued murmuring to herself and wringing her hands, pacing back and forth. Earlier in the play, she strode back and forth across the stage authoritatively, devising a plan to kill King Duncan. In the sleepwalking scene, Anderson showed her character to be one weakened and haunted by her actions.
Bassett's fierce delivery and body language as Macduff were especially effective in expressing his character's varying emotions. In the scene where Macduff is informed of his family's murders, Bassett's face remained blank, too shocked to register the loss. Then suddenly, Bassett pushed away his companions who tried to console him, supported himself against the wall and howled with grief. When told to take it like a man Bassett shouted, "I shall do so, but I must also feel it like a man!" And feel it like a man he did.
The details of this show sold the performance for me. Xi Chen's '10 lighting heightened the mood of the show, creating shadows of Macbeth that danced on the wall when he first imagined the knife to kill King Duncan. Costume designer Lena Frostestad '12 and artistic designer Virginia Robbins '10J created classic looks for the witches (Leigh Bullion '10, Willa Vogel '10J and Yuri Min '12) by giving them rags and wild hair. Bullion's scabbed-over eye gave this witch a particularly intimidating aura. Mary Randall '13 also made an impressive entrance later in the play as Hecate with her white face paint and wing-like sleeves. Lucy Wilhelms '11, as props master, must have had her hands full with all the blood (rumor has it, the crew added iron supplements to make the blood smell more realistic!) If I were to see the show again, I would bring a poncho for all the liquids that spewed from the actors. From Vogel, who sputtered out black bile, to the spilled wine and the spurting blood from multiple deaths, the stage became a slick mess.
I applaud the cast and crew for their hard work in pulling the production together in a month. This was definitely a Thursday night well spent!