Theater review by Naveen Kumar
Why plop Macbeth into the fast-food fryer of Nowheresville, USA? Never ye mind. Parsing Scotland, PA for clear or clever parody of its Shakespearean source material is a Fool’s mission. The broad and mildly amusing musical by composer Adam Gwon (Ordinary Days) and book writer Michael Mitnick (Sex Lives of Our Parents) is based on a minor cult flick of the same name and even more loosely based on the Scottish play. “There’s blood and some people die,” warns the opening number. “But we’ve changed some shit, just, like, on a whim.” For example, the three witches are now hippies who never stop smoking reefer. If only they’d share.
Mac (Ryan McCartan) and Pat (Taylor Iman Jones) are high school sweethearts pushing 30 at the same greasy joint where they’ve worked since they were teens. “Don’t cha want to be a somebody?” the stoners ask Mac. Pat is more practical: Aren’t they tired of working hard and getting nowhere? So they murder the boss, usurp the burger kingdom and invent drive-through—only to see their franchise dreams dashed by fate. Could tragedy have been avoided if they had been paid a living wage? Gwon and Mitnick don’t seem attuned to how greed and comeuppance hang differently on disaffected working-class schmoes than on restless lords and ladies. Set in 1975, like Billy Morrissette’s 2001 movie, the musical feels less nostalgic than simply out of touch. Gwon’s score sticks to agreeable soft rock and even Mitnick’s best jokes are low-hanging. Director Lonny Price goes for a B-horror vibe, but doesn’t achieve the alchemy that might have turned trashy tragedy into camp. As is, the show is a less than happy meal.
Laura Pels Theatre (Off Broadway). Book by Michael Mitnick. Musical and lyrics by Adam Gwon. Directed by Lonny Price. With Ryan McCartan, Taylor Iman Jones. Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.