“Short Shakespeare! Macbeth,” a 75 minute abridged version of the Scottish play, is a intense immersion into a dark world of greed and ambition. Although geared to younger audiences, Kristen Kelly’s original adaptation doesn’t lose a thing in the translation. If you’re a lover of Shakespeare, you won’t want to miss this 4 Spotlight production!
Each year, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre brings thousands of students into the Courtyard Theatre for their Short Shakespeare! productions. In years past, I’ve seen abridged versions of “Romeo and Juliet”, “The Taming of the Shrew” and the magical A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, to mention a few. When I complimented Marilyn Halperin, CST’s Director of Education, on the production and commented on CST’s ability to build new audiences, she told me that it isn’t just about the audiences, although that’s important. It’s more about introducing young people to Shakespeare’s incredible stories.
Instead of using the standard cellphone/texting/photography recorded announcement, a costumed cast member came onstage to give the audience tips about how the actors’ body language helps in listening and understanding Shakespeare’s language. After the show, the actors stayed on stage to answer questions from the audience, followed by conversations and photo ops in the lobby.
Opening with a tightly choreographed battle, the action in this production never stops. After the victory, Macbeth (Chris Genebach) and Banquo (Michael Perez) are greeted by trio of otherworldly witches – Kevin Cox, Andrea San Miguel and Tiffany Yvonne Cox – wielding a rather large and clearly magical tree branch.
At home, Macbeth repeats their eerie prophecies to his wife, Lady Macbeth (Lanise Antoine Shelley). While a guest in their house, Duncan (Jeffrey Baumgartner), bestows the title Thane of Cawdor on Macbeth, then names his son, Malcolm (Steven Lee Johnson) as his heir.
Since Thane of Cawdor is just one part of the witches’ prediction, Lady Macbeth sees no reason to sit back and wait for the rest to just happen, urging her husband to take action against Duncan. After the king’s body is found, Malcolm flees and Macbeth is crowned king.
Macduff (Nicholas Harazin) decides he can’t follow a king he can’t trust, so he too flees. Meanwhile, the king, brooding about Banquo’s part of the prediction, sends henchmen to kill Banquo and his son. Banquo’s ghost appears to the guilt-ridden Macbeth at the coronation banquet. Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth is going mad – hence her famous speech about that spot on her hands.
“Short Shakespeare! Macbeth” runs through February 14th at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier. Public performances are on Saturdays at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Tickets range from $16-$20. Patrons receive a 40% discount on parking in the Navy Pier Garages, so be sure and get your ticket validated in the CST lobby. FYI (312) 595-5600 or www.chicagoshakes.com. Recommended for students ages 12 and up.
Carol Moore’s reviews appear regularly on www.spotlightonlake.com. For many years, Carol wrote a weekly column, “TheatreScene”, for the Northwest Indiana Times. Carol’s company, Laughing Cat Productions, specializes in public relations and marketing.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Short Shakespeare; Macbeth!”.