My black and deep desires: Shakespeare in the Dark tackles Macbeth
Something wicked this way comes. Feb. 20, the College of William and Mary’s Shakespeare in the Dark presented a compelling rendition of one of the most illustrious dramas by history’s best-known playwright.
Directors Zach Hurst ’16 and Molly Earner ’16 reimagined this powerful piece with a modern twist, juxtaposing the ambitions of nobles and royals with the schemes of 1920s gangsters. Infusing the godfather-esque mannerisms of an old gang family while still retaining the gravity of the Shakespearean language, the production created a distinctive setting on a simple backdrop.
While some background interactions seemed unnatural, the cast was otherwise cohesive and succeeded in projecting enough to fill all corners of the Commonwealth Auditorium without the aid of microphones. Standouts included the “Weird Sisters” Leah Baker ’15, Isabelle Baucum ’17 and Katherine Oliver ’16, who demonstrated irregular and mystical movements that translated well within their ensemble as well as during entertaining yet dragging scene changes.
Aaron Stapel ’17, Daniel Burruss ’16, Bethany Bennett ’17 and Ricky Portner ’14 succeeded in adding a great deal of energy to the stage with their bold character choices and idiosyncrasies. Max Sorger ’16 exuded impressive tenacity as Macduff. He, along with Paul Soutter ’17, lent several impassioned moments to the performance that were palpable and fitting.
Jason Via ’15 portrayed the tragic hero Macbeth with severity and thrilling complexity. His monologues were delivered with such conviction that he teetered on the edge of the stage just as his character stood precariously on the edge of sanity. As Lady Macbeth, Emily Wolfteich’s ’14 inflections allowed her to express the complex language with natural ease. As a cutthroat mob wife, she transitioned smoothly from manipulative to vicious to pitifully insane.
The set, consisting solely of black curtains, created a monochromatic grimness that was fitting with the production’s overall tone and was highlighted by old-timey music and lighting arrangements that were simple yet well executed. Dark suits and dresses emphasized the rigidity of the characters while impressive use of fight sequences and gruesome blood effects added an extra level of intensity.
Shakespeare in the Dark depicted the tragic and universal tale of “Macbeth” with dedication and attentiveness. With strength and confidence, they imparted the universal lesson that power and ambition can prove to be the undoing of even the most steadfast of men.