Torch Theater; Minneapolis Theater Garage through November 1
This lean and very mean production of Macbeth begins with the room thrust into darkness and a pained burst of sound; moments later we're out on the battlefield, and the blood keeps coming with breakneck intensity. Some interpretations of Macbeth have the title character a naive young soldier seduced by the wicked machinations of his wife. Not so much here. Sean Haberle brings a primal, manly energy to the role from the get-go, prone to feral stares and thoroughly buzzed, if not outright intoxicated, with tantalizing visions of power from the moment Macbeth allows himself to consider the notion of sitting on the throne. Stacia Rice as Lady Macbeth matches Haberle with a shrewd, steely resolve, spewing venom the few times Macbeth himself doubts the murderous course on which they're set. David Mann directs and edits the text, and the result comes in at a bit less than two and a half hours (it's a show blessedly free of fat and indulgence), yet Shakespeare's language is treated like the brilliant poetry it is. Haberle delivers an understated but devastating take on Macbeth's final conclusion that life is "sound and fury signifying nothing," spitting out the words as though their homely self-evident truth (for Macbeth, at least) requires less pomp than cold precision. Michael Hoover designs the set, which is deceptively bare but with black slopes and arches that ably conjure the variety of the play's locales. The result is a Macbeth that doesn't shy away from the work's bleak cynicism, though amid Haberle and Rice's vivid depiction of their characters' mutual decline (each seems almost incapable of true guilt, instead consumed by narrowing circumstances and the numb realization that their evil can't be rescinded) there are other standout moments. Garry Geiken as Macduff manages to suspend time in the wrenching moment when his character finds out that his family has been slaughtered, and Ian Miller as Malcolm acquits himself as the next best hope for the Scots. One comes away sensing, though, that the daggers have hardly been put away for good.