Lightning strikes and three witches appear. They tell the Thane he will become king of Scotland — once, of course, the current king dies. Macbeth decides that to fulfill this prophecy he will commit murder. Oh, and don't forget: Lady Macbeth hosts a dinner party.
Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare's creepiest plays, and thankfully Skin Horse Theater's recent production at The Tigermen Den on Royal Street uses the weird factor to its advantage. When putting on such a well-known show as Macbeth, a theater company has to bring a little something extra to the table to transform the experience into something that feels fresh. Directed by Nat Kusinitz, the production made great use of its house space and color lighting tricks to give the set an interesting vibe — it felt, at times, like a cool, extended indie music video (without the singing). During intermission, the show rearranged the audience seating for the famous dinner scene.
Macbeth (Dylan Hunter) is a tragic character consumed by the prophecy of power. Hunter plays the lead with descent-into-madness intensity the character demands. (Hunter gave a standout performance in last year's Possum Kingdom from Cripple Creak Theatre Co., and he is a young actor to watch.)
Macbeth, though, would not be as manic without his partner in crime, the great Lady Macbeth (Veronica Hunsinger-Loe). Their relationship is one filled with insane passion and, toward the end, just insanity. Hunsinger-Loe goes through a wide range of emotions. She's gripping to watch.
People who read Macbeth in high school may remember the show as "the one with the witches." The witches are memorable characters, and they do some of their best conjuring by saying "Double, double toil and trouble," a phrase now heard in many good (or campy) Halloween movies. In this production, the witches (Ellery Burton, Pandora Gastelum and Monica Gilliam) reminded me of a triplet version of the girl from The Ring. In one scene, the three women — wearings hoods, white-faced makeup and black lines on their mouths — crawl toward the audience as they twist their bodies and scrape their fingernails against the wood floor. While the witches sent chills through the crowd, they also were quite beautiful together; their synchronized, intermittent bursts of choreography were strangely mesmerizing.
In one scene, Macbeth consults the witches to explain the prophecies they have given him. In the Skin Horse production, Macbeth is chained to an overturned table, and the witches use an old-school projector to cast blood and worms onto his body. The images looked really cool and, again, added to the creepy aesthetic of the show.
Though Macbeth is a familiar story, Skin Horse's production is a worthwhile — and different — experience. The show definitely keeps the audience on edge (kind of like a ghost) and makes it one to remember. — TYLER GILLESPIE