Photo via KCST

Bwog’s Resident Shakespeare Connoisseur Peter Sterne reports from the VagBox:

It’s hard to think of a Shakespearean play that fits Columbia better than Macbeth (OK, maybe). This classic tragedy of all-consuming ambition might serve as a warning to those who have already decamped to Butler in anticipation of finals, so long as they can tear themselves away from their carrels long enough to go see KCST’s latest production in the Diana’s Glicker-Milstein Black Box Theater. After going to the premiere last night, this Bwogger highly recommends that they, and anyone else looking for an enjoyable but thought-provoking way to spend an evening, go to see this production.

As the title character, James Underwood delivered a brilliant but understated performance that tracked Macbeth’s transformation from a valiant warrior to a mad tyrant. Underwood began by speaking in a rough, emotionless manner and filled his first soliloquies with long dramatic pauses. He seemed profoundly inarticulate opposite the electric Maura McNamara’s Lady Macbeth, who managed to invest every word, sigh, and even sob with feeling without ever losing her composure. But it was all an act, and a brilliant one at that!  Once Macbeth gained power, Underwood’s speech began to express the paralyzing fear and sinister anger that ruled his character, and by the end of the play he was commanding the stage with his paranoid rants.
Birdy Sahagian, Katrina Kostro, and Madalena Provo were fantastic as the Weird Sisters. Sensuous and physical, often embracing one another or Macbeth, they easily charmed both Macbeth and the audience. Had Shakespeare known these three, he would never have described the Weird Sisters as “withered hags.” Dennis V. Perepelitsa had a great turn as Macbeth’s friendly voice of reason, Banquo, particularly when he came back from the dead to terrify Macbeth with nothing more than an angry, knowing scowl. Jacob Rice, as his son Fleance, only had two lines but still won over the audience with his emotive mugging and slapstick sword-fighting skills.

Everett Sherman first plays the Scottish king Duncan, and later shows up as a drunk Porter who muses philosophically. In both roles, he was quite enjoyable to watch. He spoke the dense and multi-layered Shakespearean dialogue quickly and naturally. Although this occasionally made it difficult to understand his exact words, his emotive speaking style and gestures ensured that the audience always understood what he was trying to say.

In addition to actors, the play made great use of the stage. In the scene of Duncan’s murder, his “bedchamber” was formed through the use of a large screen blocking off the middle of the stage. Lit from behind, only the haunting silhouettes of the murderer and his victim were visible. Later, as Macbeth’s thugs viciously killed MacDuff’s family and servants in his castle, Macbeth appeared just offstage enjoying a delightful dinner, accompanied by music from an actual violinist. This brilliant juxtaposition of Macbeth’s life of luxury and the terrible consequences of his moral depravity perfectly illustrated his character.

KCST’s production of Macbeth is certainly an enjoyable and thought-provoking way to spend a Friday or Saturday night. In addition to a great performance piece, it is a great distraction from over-indulging in your own ambitions, whether those be plotting the death of Scottish nobles or breaking the curve in Orgo.

There will be performances of KCST’s Macbeth tonight and tomorrow night at 8pm in the Glicker-Milstein Black Box Theater, located on Lower Level 2 of the Diana Center. Tickets are sold out, but standby seating is available if you email with your name, the date you will attend, and the number of tickets you want.