Through the centuries actors, directors, and producers have felt the urge to fiddle with the Bard, often to their detriment. Sure, it may be fun to set King Lear on a spaceship, but why? You can add Macbeth: Rehearsing to this list, as the latest Nightpath Theatre show is neither fish nor fowl. The veneer of presenting the Scottish Play as if during a rehearsal isn't developed beyond a distraction to the story. At first, the occasional interruptions from the director (Maggie Scanlan, who also directs the production) and flubbed lines point to a piece that might get into the workings of the production, which feels troubled—the cast is uninterested, and the director has removed one of the actors and put herself in the role of Lady Macbeth. That, however, never goes anywhere—it doesn't provide any insight into the characters (be they the ones in Macbeth or the actors in the cast) or into the play. It largely disappears in the production's second half, but it's too late for the story or the actors to take off. That many of the performers seem underprepared (by design or lack of rehearsals, it doesn't matter in the end) makes it only worse. Shakespeare's text is tough, and it often sounds as if the performers are just reciting the lines instead of believing and living them, including Michael Ooms as Macbeth and Scanlan as his murderous wife. There are some strong performances here—Kristin Foster as Banquo is very good—and some of the staging choices really work. Having the Weird Sisters interact throughout with the Macbeths is a clever idea that brings an added dimension to the story. That's the production we need to see, not this hybrid. $12-$18. 15 W. 14th St., Minneapolis. 612.870.0723. Through January 22
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