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Theater review by Naveen Kumar
Coldy lit and swathed in drab tartan, Classic Stage Company’s Macbeth resembles an especially severe fall runway show. Color, emotional and otherwise, is out. Stage blood on the hands of its doomed thane (Corey Stoll) is the first sign of life in director-designer John Doyle’s odd and funerary production.
The condensed company of nine proceeds through Shakespeare’s tightest tragedy as though in a preordained ritual. The actors assume various roles, assembling into a chorus of witches as needed. The action is clear enough—prophecies are spoken, human obstacles dispatched, a crown untimely snatched—but the motivations are largely opaque. It’s as though a chic cult had been discovered and an investigative Netflix doc were still forthcoming.
Stoll makes clear sense of the verse, though his Macbeth doesn’t seem to find a doomed descent into treachery too out of the ordinary. But even in a production that skims the surface, Nadia Bowers seems out of her depth as his conniving wife. As the body count mounts and real feeling is required, the result is melodrama and inadvertent humor. When the hurlyburly’s done, the battle’s far more lost than won.
Classic Stage Company (Off Broadway). By William Shakespeare. Directed by John Doyle. With Corey Stoll, Nadia Bowers. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission.