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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Lyceum

By Robert L. Daniels

  Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood/PH: Sara Krulwich

The Scottish play is back on the boards. A threatening blast of brass jolts the viewer, serving as an ominous preface for this theatrically potent production of Macbeth. Shakespeare's dark and bloody tragedy comes to Broadway by way of Great Britain's Chichester Festival Theater, London's West End and an acclaimed run at BAM. As staged by Rupert Goold, the production boasts both star power and a palatable cutting thrust. The Bard's most foul and devious tragedy is played out with a stealthy sense of impending doom and a harnessed fury of unnerving severity.

At the center of the bloody tempest is the Thane of Cawdor, played with fire and intelligence by Patrick Stewart. The actor is an older, weathered soldier who carries a woeful sense of weariness. A Macbeth riddled with doubt and anguish, Stewart creates an imposing figure, ruthlessly governed by a sense of moral doubt and weakness. He offers a blunt, forceful and riveting performance of an imposing and overly ambitious ill-fated figure on a self-destructive course.

Kate Fleetwood is a sensual and baleful Lady Macbeth. Youthful, and coldly avaricious, her queen is an unsettling kittenish beauty, both cruel and calculating. Her sleepwalking scene, motivated by seeds of guilt and madness, is one of potent icy awe.

The Macduff of Michael Feast is fueled with fiery determination and power. There is quiet dignity in his bereavement. The slaughter of Macduff's wife and little babies is one of the Bard's most terrifying and numbing moments. It is played out with chilly haste this time around, quickly dissolving to a blackout. It still manages to create a devastating theatrical statement that makes ones blood run cold.

Martin Turner's doomed Banquo is soldierly and nobly authoritative. His ghostly appearance at the and of act one serves as a prelude to fright night. The sardonic porter, as acted by Christopher Patrick Nolan is amusing, but we could have done without the urination in the kitchen sink. Rachel Ticotin in her brief preface to terror as Lady Macduff offers parental warmth.

Fine also is Scott Handy as heir to the throne and Bill Nash as the bearer of bad news. The three witches are hardly the cackling midnight hags of Macbeth's twisted imagination. This time around they appear as nurses administering to the victims of trench warfare and they silently create an unnerving presence. The military costumes and automatic weapons suggest a twentieth century war zone. This is a robust production, vividly staged and absorbing. Beware the blood. It flows freely. This Macbeth bristles with a terrible grandeur.


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