This Pigs Eye Theatre take on the Scottish Play sets the action in hell, where the bloodthirsty royal and his scheming wife are doomed to repeat their betrayals and black-hearted intrigues for all eternity. It's a gambit that succeeds more in concept than execution. The action opens with a quite daring bit of guerilla disorientation perpetrated on the audience, as the players walk onto the bare stage (almost 10 minutes before the announced starting time last Thursday) and, without introduction, launch into the breakneck series of events that leads to Macbeth's death in the final scene. Then Macbeth (John Lilleberg) rises from the ground, sighs, and the play begins from the actual first scene. Director Randall J. Funk's placing this familiar story into a cycle of tormented metaphysical recurrence tickles on an intellectual level, but drawbacks soon emerge. Gone is the humor and joy in the early scenes, when young Macbeth is often depicted as cocky and gleeful in his sudden rush to glory. The show never seems to lose the air of gloom that is supposed to come later, and Lilleberg plays Macbeth as intense and brooding from the get-go. There is no set--apparently in hell the condemned exist in a blank space adorned with daubs of paint--and though at times the eye feels famished, Lindsey Ingles's lighting design frequently paints the stage in darkness and murky, appropriately spooky reds. Tina Frederickson is done up in a business suit to play off her husband's long black leather overcoat, and she puts across the proper steeliness during the plotting stages of her ascent to power as well as the deranged madness that follows. But for the deeper dimensions of the tragedy to come across, all of this heaviness needs to be balanced by light in the early stages. At times Lilleberg's anguished delivery aligns with the poetry of the text. More often than not, though, the action is played so quickly, the words shot out at such a rapid pace, that it feels as though the play is being half-strangled. By the end we feel for Macbeth, having to get up and do it all again, but we also feel a fair amount of relief that we get to leave.
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