By Jeff Pelletier
Blood, betrayal, and a battle for power. Sock ‘n’ Buskin Theatre Company presents a chilling, sinister, and brilliant Macbeth.
Macbeth was first performed as early as 1606. As one of William Shakespeare’s best-known plays, it tells the story of Macbeth (Sheldon Paul), a Scottish general, and his rise to power.
After being told by a group of witches (Jasmine Stamos, Mary Sword, Alex Wilson) that he would become the King, Macbeth feels encouraged by his wife, Lady Macbeth (Meaghan Brackenbury), to murder Queen Duncan (Amal Azman) and claim the throne. Fearing that he will lose his powerful position, Macbeth and his wife are driven to insanity, as they co-ordinate a series of assassination attempts against those who threaten him.
Paul’s strong poise, along with his varying tone, pacing, and volume provided a convincing portrayal of the story’s powerful, two-faced protagonist. As an effective contrast, Brackenbury used facial expressions, staggered movements, and a menacing speech to genuinely convey the psychotic nature of Macbeth’s villainous wife.
Will Lafrance’s solid projection and energetic movements thoroughly conveyed Macduff’s emotions and vengeful goals after being betrayed by Macbeth. Matthew Okum stood out in the scenes when his character (Banquo) returns as a hallucination after being murdered, as he quietly and slowly moved around the stage with a lifeless facial expression. As the three witches, Stamos, Sword, and Wilson spoke and moved in unison, fully projecting their sinister and gritty voices.
Perhaps one of the greatest elements of this production was that it highlighted Sarah Haley’s strength as a director. In accepting the challenge of directing Macbeth, Haley added creativity and originality to one of the most popular and ambitious classic plays.
Haley’s decision to use a 20th century theme for costumes and props provided an intriguing contrast with the script’s traditional English text. Actors wore business casual outfits, smoked glowing cigarettes, and fought with handguns. Jazz and rock-and-roll music were effectively used during scene changes to foreshadow what might happen next.
A simplistic set allowed the audience to focus its attention on the actors and the story, and allowed the stage crew to execute scene changes in a timely manner. Lighting was effectively used to enhance the dark mood in different parts of the story; spotlights highlighted specific actors during their sinister soliloquies, and silhouettes of trees and a projection of the moon made night time scenes much more haunting. In addition, pathetic fallacy was achieved through the use of a smoke machine during these chilling scenes.
The highlight of the show came during the convincing and perfectly timed climactic fight scene involving the entire cast, which presented the actors’ precise focus and discipline. The Sock ‘n’ Buskin Theatre Company cast and crew performed a practically flawless production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.