Stratford Festival’s “Macbeth” Review

So, this review is obviously a bit different than usual.

Usually I write up book reviews, not reviews for plays. However, I recently saw the Stratford Festival’s production of the Shakespearean play “Macbeth” and I believe it was worth a review, so here it is!

This rendition of “Macbeth” takes on a much traditional look, complete with the armor, knightly costumes, and other styles of dress when it came to the costumes. Even the stage was constructed so there was mossy ground with stones and such lying around. The makeup of the three witches, portrayed as grimy old, but definitely creepy-looking women, added to the haunting atmosphere. Fog and strobe lights are used for dramatic but not overdone effect. The lighting is mostly dim, as it was explained in the stage notes that this production was aiming for giving the effect of being back in the old days where there was no electricity. Heck, one or two scenes are played out in complete darkness and I can’t help but wonder how many times the actors tripped over various props when rehearsing the scenes. Nonetheless, the scene transitions went off without any problems, and were nearly instantaneous when they occurred.

Speaking of pacing, the play itself had a strange pacing. Part two of the play, after intermission, started off with the murder of Lady Macduff and her children rather than the scene with the three witches predicting Macbeth’s doom, which was instead used to end part one just before intermission. This made the first half of the play feel incredibly long, but made the second half almost too short to really sit down for.

When it came to the actors and their characters, Ian Lake as Macbeth and Krystin Pellerin as Lady Macbeth knocked it out of the park for their performance. Lake and Pellerin bring such a youthfulness and almost a sensual note during their scenes together, especially in their first scenes together. Lake brings out Macbeth as a man who doesn’t quite think things through, even from the beginning. The development of Macbeth going from a man trying to keep his honor to King Duncan to a man who will do anything to keep his power is an astounding change, especially with Lady Macbeth initially goading him on to commit the bloody deeds he wants to do.

Scott Wentworth brings a thoughtfulness to Banquo’s character, and sets the tone for how different he is. Unlike Macbeth, Banquo knows better than to force fate to get what he wants. Instead, he patiently waits for what is to happen to him, even if that ends up being his demise. Cyrus Lane is notable for his time onstage as the Porter, bringing a crude but lively sense of humour into the lines he delivers, and is certainly worth remembering.

Overall, I think this production of “Macbeth” is worth 4.5 out of 5 stars, only losing the .5 stars for the weird pacing of the scenes.

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