Macbeth: bloody loud

Lady Macbeth (Moya O'Connell) and Macbeth (Ben Carlson) confer intensely.

Lady Macbeth (Moya O’Connell) and Macbeth (Ben Carlson) confer intensely.

Macbeth! All shouting! All the time!

Okay, they’re not shouting all the time, but there is a heck of a lot of hollering in director Chris Abraham’s take on the Scottish play and all of that volume keeps us on the surface of the text.

Moya O’Connell’s Lady Macbeth is a case in point. The first time we hear her speak, she is reading a letter from her husband—as if she were the town crier. As she is seducing Macbeth to murder King Duncan and clear his own way to the throne, Lord and Lady embrace—and she shouts in his ear. Don’t get me wrong: O’Connell fills the role with feeling but, under Abraham’s direction, she does so on such an operatic scale that it’s alienating.

In his program notes, Abraham says, “Macbethis a play that asks its audience to form a unique bond with its protagonists” but, for me, Ben Carlson’s Macbeth is also distancing. He’s loud, but strangely lacking in vitality. Yes, Lady Macbeth has to egg her husband on, but Carlson Macbeth doesn’t give her much to work with. The pronounced passivity of this characterization discourages engagement. [Read more…]

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