Monday, October 10, 2005

Day 9

Didn't write again, as such, but I did jot down a few ideas for shows. It's a step in the right direction.

Otherwise, my theater stuff on Sunday was seeing The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Dodger Stages and Naked Macbeth at the Sonnet Theater.

I went into Trailer Park with no real expectations. Some friends had liked it, others hadn't, so I went into it a blank slate. I thought it was great. Fun and silly with catchy songs, it was a great diversion. I just wish they'd been selling the cast album, because some of the lyrics were hilarious and I wanted to listen to them again. But this show is definitely worth seeing, especially if you're from the South. I was impressed with all the actors, set, costumes . . . really, just about everything.

Naked Macbeth was good, not great, but I will give the director credit for going out on a limb. Personally, I'd rather go see a version like this where the director is trying to make the show fresh, than to see a technically perfect show with no vision.

The cast was all male and as the title indicates, there was some nudity, but the 'naked' really referred to the stripped down version of the show. Minimal sets, lighting, props, sound . . . just the things that were necessary. Also, some of the dialogue was cut leaving a fairly fast-moving, tight play.

My biggest problem with the show was that some of the actors just weren't up to the task of working with Shakespeare's language. Some of them were great: Jonty Valentine as Lady Macbeth really knew how to work the language and to be dramatic and feminine without overplaying either; Nathan Perry as Banquo who also seemed at ease with the language and carried himself with the swagger of a warrior backed up with a good heart and keen mind . . . if that isn't present, it makes Banquo's murder less terrible. Unfortunately, others were unable to master the language and that brought the show's pacing down.

I really admire the director, Russell Taylor, for some of the choices he made. I don't think all of them worked, but it made the show interesting. When the house opened, three of the actors were arranged in a tableau that was jarring, but effectively set the mood. He used one actor, Jack McGowan, to play all three Weird Sisters. Not something I would have thought of, but in a lot of respects it worked. The way he set up the cauldron scene (he doesn't use a cauldron . . . I won't say how he does it, but it's really a great idea) and the placement of the line 'Lay on, Macduff' were really clever. He also combined a number of the lesser characters into one Attendant role which was interesting in that it created this double agent who was working for Macbeth and against him. Again, not a choice I would have made, but it did add a new twist to the show.

Other problems I had were the costumes, which seemed to lack a central vision or theme (they ran the gamut from 'This is Spinal Tap' to GI Joe to Dungeons & Dragons), a kiss and a familiarity between Macbeth and Banquo that hinted at a relationship that was beyond platonic, but wasn't fully explored, and a Duncan who didn't really come off as sympathetic (he seemed dismissive and there was kind of a creepy vibe between him and his son, Donalbain). Not sure if that was a director or actor choice, but if Duncan isn't sympathetic, it takes some of the horror out of Macbeth's murdering him.

Overall, though, I think the show is worth seeing. Plus people should get out and support shows that take risks, otherwise theater becomes stagnant.

But if you do, bring a cushion to sit on . . . the chairs in the theater are terrible.

8 comments:

David said...

I have GOT to get to Trailer Park. And I have no time whatsoever to see it. Ugh.

Naked Macbeth sounds intruiging, even with the shortcomings. Thanks.

Jase said...

Oo.. both shows I wanted to see! Hey, do you have Cliff Notes to Macbeth?

Crash said...

David: Trailer Park was great (especially since I got $3 tickets). A really fun time. And, um . . . don't say 'shortcomings' when you're talking about Naked Macbeth, the actors might get paranoid.

Jase: I don't have Cliff's notes (God, I would have hated to have had you in the theater course I taught). Macbeth is a fast read.

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