The set made me think of “West Side Story.” There’s trash all over the ground on both sides of a high metal fence. It’s a deserted place perfect for escaping the strictures of the private St. Tiena School for Girls after school. They plan to put on their own version of Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy.
The girls arrive mostly looking rougher for wear, with skirts hiked up to show off legs and blouses opened to reveal bras and camisoles. They are all over one another, sometimes happily, sometimes erotically, sometimes menacingly. Their barely held back sexuality is contrasted by childish behavior.
Several of them, for example, use babies’ pacifiers as rings on which they occasionally suck. Creepy.
And all that energy that goes in so many directions they put into their own play — though play is has mixed meaning.
The drama’s several settings and the multiple roles played by the eight actors keep the audience on its collective toes. The action moves very quickly between the play and the play-within-a-play and within the girls’ version of “Macbeth.” There’s not much chance to meditate about who’s on first.
The actors’ command of the Shakespeare dialogue is impressive. Lizzy Santana as Macbeth and Markie Swanson as Lady Macbeth control every mood of the moment, whether it is Macbeth talking himself into murdering Duncan or Lady Macbeth chiding, teasing Macbeth when he loses his cool after seeing Banquo’s ghost at the feast.
Maya Damron makes Baquo noble in life and naughty in death. He’s having a lot of fun haunting his former leader.
Jamieson Campo’s Macduff seems to grow larger as his rage grows with the terrible news of his family.
The three witches — Emily Robinson, Katie Miller and Jordan Burford — have lots of fun with their taunting of Macbeth and their spell casting. I wish I could have seen what they put into their cauldron. I’m guessing it is items teen girls would have around, but I couldn’t see so I don’t know. (That also happens when Lady Macbeth is committing suicide. She’s too far away to see what she sees.)
The teen girls break out of their “Macbeth” occasionally with loud shrieks and bursts of energy that require one to refocus. There’s no taking anything for granted.
Emma Bate in herself spans the worlds of the play. She is the production’s stage manager as well as the girls’ production’s stage manager. Being part of both worlds does not, however, prepare her for what ultimately happens.
The fighting choreographed by Danette
Baker fills the small space of the Little Theatre and puts the audience right onto the edge of it. The exuberance of the fighting ties it more to the teenagers’ raucous behavior than to classically composed fight scenes.
I’ll say this — I’ve seen “Macbeth” numerous times, and this is the first time I ended the play laughing. I want people to see “Mac Beth” so we can talk about it.
Director Joshua Robinson continues to offer excellent theatre that stretches the audience. The “Mac Beth” cast is all seniors, so a very strong part of the program will be leaving in May. But there are more productions to see before the year ends. I look forward to them.
“Mac Beth” is onstage in the Helen Graham Little Theatre today and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Christy Hall on the Southwestern College campus.