At the Warehouse, The Rude Mechanicals bring Macbeth to life. Inspired by the line “The instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray us in deepest consequence,” director Joshua Engel strips the play of the special effects, choosing to focus on the interplay between darkness and light. The minimalist idea is reflected in the lighting and set design – as the only element on the stage is a throne, and there is a single large spotlight on the stage.
In examining the darkness and light, Engel focuses on the witches. The actresses that play the witches, Rebecca Speas, Diane Samuelson, and Lauren Beward, take on other supporting roles, making it somewhat confusing as to whether they are still witches or not. So it seems that Engel decided to make the witches attack Banquo. The witches succeed in killing Banquo but deliberately release his son, Fleance. If it was the witches that killed Banquo, their actions raise questions of fate and their general involvement in the intrigue.
Despite being a tragedy, there are elements of comedy in the play. The design of Banquo’s ghost is amusing. Marlowe Vilchez’s ghost seems more like a zombie, lumbering around scaring Macbeth. The Porter, Melissa Schick, is hilarious, calling out members of the audience during her monologue about the gate of Hell.
Engel chose to blind Lady Macbeth. Although, Jaki Demarest was a little unconvincing as a blind person. However, Demarest’s performance of Lady Macbeth’s pivotal scene at the end of the play is amazing. Demarest incorporated crying and singing to illustrate the overwhelming guilt that Lady Macbeth is experiencing. You can see her descending deeper and deeper into madness as the scene continues.
Overall, Macbeth: The Instruments of Darkness is a decent production. There are some amazing performances, Michael C. Robinson is particularly notable for his portrayal of Macduff. The play’s attempt to examine light and dark is subtle, and ambiguous. But at it’s core, it is still a story of Macbeth and the consequences of evil and ambition. Recommended for those that enjoy Shakespeare.