It’s a daunting task bringing Shakespeare to the stage.
There are so many moving parts — understanding the text and showcasing the emotion behind it with the right body language and delivery while also establishing the context and quirks of whatever setting the director gives it. If one of them stammers, it’s felt through the entire production.
Missouri Western’s production of “Macbeth,” which continues Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4, at Potter Hall Theater, suffers from multiple stalls, as the cast seemingly has trouble translating Shakespeare’s classic tragedy to the stage.
Set in a minimalistic dystopian environment, Missouri Western’s “Macbeth” has its cast sporting “The Hunger Games”-like clothing as Macbeth (Shira Murphy), a brave Scottish general, receives a foretelling from three witches (Kara McGhee, Abby Sexton and Annie Valuska) that he will become King of Scotland. To do this, he must murder King Duncan (Skyla Booth), with the encouragement of his wife, Lady Macbeth (Antonio Daniels-Braziel). This sparks the downfall of almost all of the characters involved.
Throughout the play, some of the cast speeds through lines too fast for the audience to grasp the dense text. In other cases, they speak in one tone, either deadly serious or a loud yell, which makes the lines come off as cold and emotionless.
That’s not to say the cast isn’t trying. Macbeth (Murphy) and Lady Macbeth (Daniels-Braziel) share some outstanding scenes, particularly when their hands are covered in blood. Kirsten Melkowski stands out as MacDuff, giving the character humanity and nuance. The group of witches are clearly having fun as the cunning catalysts of Macbeth’s fall from grace.
While the play takes some risks, adding an electronic and rock score and experimenting with the spotlight, it only adds to the confusion rather than clarifying what’s happening.
Directed by Tee Quillin, a director who has proven his talent in multiple productions, and working with a talented cast, “Macbeth” is a rare miss for Missouri Western.
— Andrew Gaug | STJOELIVE STAFF