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Photograph: Scott Draylady M. at the side project

Lady M. at the side project | Theater review

A new recutting of Macbeth puts Lady M in the spotlight but is otherwise unfocused.


The source text is William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but adapter-director Laley Lippard has condensed and rearranged it to put the Scottish assassin’s wife at the center of things. Lippard starts off with Lady M’s famous sleepwalking scene from Act V (“Out, damned spot!”), then flashes back to the beginning to tell a disjointed version of the story, suggesting we’re watching it unfold in the queen’s memory. Rather than merely goading her husband to kill King Duncan and anyone else who stands in the way of the couple’s ambition, Lippard’s Lady Macbeth carries out many of her husband’s crimes (including several murders) and even conspires with the witchlike Weird Sisters.

Despite her expanded role, Kristi Webb’s strangely passive and remote Lady Macbeth seems carried along by events rather than capable of influencing them. When she’s not getting dry humped by her husband, she’s usually wandering around in a guilty trance. Lippard and Webb probably mean to provide a fresh look at the ballbuster we’re accustomed to, but their alternative comes across as wishy-washy and ill defined.

Similarly, Corey Noble’s introspective take on Macbeth seems better suited to Hamlet than a fierce warrior not especially prone to dawdling. All the other parts are divided among four men who don’t go out of their way to differentiate one role from the next. This, along with Lippard’s penchant for futzing with chronology, renders the plot almost impossible to follow. God help you if you don’t already know the play.

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