An unsettling spirit looms over this mounting of the Scottish play—and I’m not talking about the ghosts of the many people Macbeth murders on his preordained way to the throne. Epic Theatre Ensemble’s streamlined interpretation of the Bard’s tragedy opens with a digital photo montage of Macbeth (Ty Jones) and his wife (Melissa Friedman) mourning the death of their young child, a conceit further hammered home by the massive mural of the formerly happy family. The theory that the spouses were once parents is not new (after all, Lady Macbeth says she has “suckled a baby”), but making their loss such a centerpiece is. While it’s an intriguing notion that reframes their motives, it adds an ambiguity to the action that undermines the play’s potency.
Obie-winner Jones, a Shakespeare vet who previously played a memorable Macbeth at the Classical Theatre of Harlem, is commanding and comfortable with the language. In fact there are many fine performances, notably Friedman as his fiery wife and the three Witches (Aimé Donna Kelly, Julian Rozzell Jr. and James Wallert), who, instead of being the personification of evil, are portrayed as time-card-punching workers. Even lauded Tony winner Richard Easton shows up as a doddering Duncan—albeit via video. But as engaging as this production is, Ron Russell’s flawed vision cannot be conquered. Is this really Macbeth that I see before me? It’s hard to tell.—Raven Snook
Average User Rating
5 / 5
- 5 star:2
- 4 star:0
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
Epic's production of Macbeth is fantastic. It's a unique update of a classic play. You'll be surprised to see a diverse cast of actors who give amazing strong performances.To keep this play fresh, the director made use of current technology and incorporated video into the performance in a way that's seamless and useful. There are certain aspects of the play that are presented in a way that's unusual. The witches, for example, play a more prominent role in the story. They're exciting to watch. You definitely will not be bored. You'll be surprised by how the director has managed to bring something new to a play that's been done over and over again.
A thoroughly engaging and consistently surprising take on this play. Epic's production is, by far, the clearest production of Macbeth I have ever seen. Its vision is fresh while remaining true to the text, making a play that I have often found inaccessible seem, all of the sudden, extremely powerful and relevant. The clarity with which the text is spoken and the story is framed is aided greatly by the diversity of the cast, which is unmatched by anything else I have seen on the New York stage in recent memory. This brought Macbeth (the play and the character) into the world in which I (and, hopefully, you) live (minus the witches (which, btw, are insanely delightful/hilarious/terrifying in this show)). It is the type of theater I want to see: theater that speaks to me while not speaking ONLY to me and people that look like me (white people, in case you were wondering). Parenthetical asides aside, I'd recommend this show to anyone. It takes Macbeth's story off of the dreaded pedestal and delivers it and all its complexities in a way that is not modern for the sake of being modern, but for the sake of being present with and delightful to the people in the room.