I’m interrupting this long patch of inactivity on the blog to, hopefully, knock out a two-post day. Yay, I finally have something to talk about! I haven’t been catching many shows of late, thanks to a pretty evil work schedule that is only hinting at letting up anytime soon. Between that and my hilariously deteriorating mental state, I haven’t been giving the old Chud the attention it craves. This should be changing soon, and as long as we’re talking about slow, slippery slides into madness…MACBETH!
Yes, it’s time for the Scottish Play to get its second review in these electronic pages (the first was Sock’n’Buskin’s cool production last year), which always makes me feel like a real theatre-guy. I’m starting to get multiple Shakespeare viewings all OVER the place! There is sadly no award for that, but since seeing theatre is a reward unto itself, I can live. And if we’re talking about rewarding shows to watch, then we’re definitely talking about Salamander Theatre‘s MacBeth. Directed by Catriona Leger (fresh off a stellar season helming the St.Lawrence Shakepeare Festival production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM) and starring the dream team of Brad Long, Katie Bunting and Zach Counsil, this is a streamlined, hyper-fun presentation of one of the bard’s darkest, and most celebrated works.
A three-hander of MacBeth sounds like a daunting task, but the talent assembled on the Gladstone stage that evening was more than up to the task.Each of the three actors naturally took on multiple roles throughout, although Brad Long stuck mostly to the title role of mad Mackers himself, a Scottish Thane who receives a prophetic pronouncement from three ‘weird sisters’ in the woods and, well…well, he really should have just ignored them and been the best Thane he could be, all right? Unhappily for him (and everyone around him), he decides to take the sisters’ advice back to his overreachingly ambitious wife (Katie Bunting’s main role in the show), who decides that Regicide isn’t such a bad idea after all. They soon find themselves at odds with all of their old allies, most notably Banquo and MacDuff (both played by the excellent Zach Counsil), heaping murder upon murder, and realizing the terrible consequences of their ambitions. It’s a classic for a reason, really.
I could go on for a while about each of the three leads…I’ve never seen Brad Long better than he was in this show, and that’s saying something. Zach Counsil is always a joy onstage, be it his bearlike king Duncan, fiery MacDuff, or my fav’rit bit when as Banquo he picked one of the audience members to be his son Fleance (this night it was award-winning director Joel Beddows, because, as long as he’s THERE…). And darlin’ Katie Bunting continues to impress…her Lady MacBeth was an imposing creation indeed, and a nice counterpoint to her other onstage appearances, like bespectacled Lennox, or a marvellous few moments as all 3 weird sisters at once. Inventively staged and never dull, this is indeed a MacBeth that will keep young audiences…and old ones, too…pretty much rivetted. Cat Leger knows her Billy Shakes, folks, and she does this one up right. Oh, and shoutout to Chris McLeod for some awesome fight choreography.
Newly appointed Salamander Artistic Director, and all-around amazing gal Kate Smith introduced the show, the newest in Salamander’s recently relaunched series of public shows. Mackers has been touring schools, and is making only a brief foray into the public eye, so catch it while you can…the next public performances are two shows on the 20th at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama. And if you’re a teacher, get in touch with Salamander now to book one of their several planned productions…the next public show is Hannah Moscovitch’s WHERE POPPIES BLOW, and I’m already looking forward to it. So should you be. Peace, love and soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)