Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Scottish Play Comes To Watertown - F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company Present "Macbeth"

The Bard of Avon is much in fashion these days in the Colonies!  At the moment, there are four productions of Shakespeare plays running on Broadway: Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, Twelfth Night and Macbeth.  I recently saw the Lincoln Center production of "Macbeth" starring Ethan Hawke.  So, as I made my way to Watertown and the Arsenal Center for the Arts this past weekend, my mind was already steeped in the violence of the bloody Scottish play.

I found it poignant as I made my way to the theatre that I passed by the parking lot of the Arsenal Mall that had served back in April as a staging area for the army of law enforcement officials who descended upon Watertown in search of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.  Alas, we are constantly reminded that mayhem and murder did not go out of style with Elizabethan English.

Directed by Joey DeMita, this local production of "Macbeth" has much to  recommend it.  To begin with, the actors playing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are outstanding in their respective  roles.  Dave Rich looks every bit the over-reaching war hero spurred on to bloody ambition by the coven of witches and by his ambitious  Lady.  His mastery of the rhythms and nuances of Shakespeare's poetry was flawless.  He cuts an impressive and tragic figure upon the stage.  In parallel, Linda Goetz as Lady Macbeth is magisterial and manic, imploring and humiliating her man to get on with the job of seizing the throne from poor Duncan.

The set designed by James Petty is interesting.  A pool occupies center stage of the Arsenal Black Box.  It is a crooked design - emblematic perhaps of the lighting that punctuates the opening of the play, or perhaps symbolizing the crookedness of the witches and their schemes.  For the witches hover about the pool during most of the time they are on stage.  The lighting, designed by Tim Boland, allows the pool to change colors often, implying more or less bloodshed.  I am not sure I understand why the bridge that spans the upstage area was imported from Cape Ann, where it served nobly in last season's Gloucester Stage Company's production of "Spring Awakening."  Its use in this play led to much  movement of characters and busyness that did not always make sense to me.  It felt like "a bridge to nowhere."

In  addition to the leads I have already praised, Benjamin Medeiros as Banquo, Grant Jacoby as Malcolm and Sam Greene as the young apparition of MacDuff's son acquitted themselves well with this difficult material.  The same can be said of the trio of Weird Sisters, played by Emily Taborda-Monroe, Kristie Norros and Katherine McNally.  They were appropriately sinister and mysterious.  The rest of the cast soldiered on to the best of their several abilities, which varied to a rather broad degree.  In fact, I wondered about the casting of this ensemble - a combination of gifted professionals with those who appear to be just dipping their toes in the water of dramatic acting.  Then I re-read the Mission Statement of The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company:

"The mission of The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company, Inc. is to provide quality, affordable theatre productions to the people in the greater Boston area, cultivate an appreciation for and understanding of the arts, and provide a learning opportunity for those interested in a genuine theatre experience."

I suspect that in the interest of providing a learning opportunity, parts are sometimes offered to actors whose limited experience might not otherwise make them ready for prime time.  This is a commendable aspect of F.U.D.G.E., but one that makes it difficult for the audience to know just what to expect.

Nonetheless, this is a production worth seeing and supporting.  It will run through November 30.

Fudge Theatre Company



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