By Lynn Geyer
One of William Shakespeare‚Äôs bloodiest tragedies is made most fair in the Lakewood Playhouse‚Äôs current production of Macbeth.
History has it that when the Elizabethan era passed to the Scottish King James I, Shakespeare, wishing to continue the theatrical glory he held with his previous patron, delved into the history of Scotland‚Äôs literature and myths in order to gain the new king‚Äôs patronage. His research netted him violence and witchcraft, wholesale murder and wizards; the Bard found a cauldron, added an eye of newt and cooked up the grizzly Macbeth.
Here Shakespeare has the loyal Macbeth occasion upon a trio of weird sisters who greet him with prophetical promises of new titles culminating in the crown of Scotland. This Macbeth imparts to his ambitious wife who seizes the moment and guides Macbeth to murder and slaughter to make the prophecy come true. How the Macbeths accomplish their goals and meet their quietus hangs the tale of one of Shakespeare‚Äôs best known and most gruesome plays.
The play is masterfully directed by Scott Campbell, who uses every inch of the in-the-round intimate stage to tell the tale; he also did the wonderful sound design. Campbell keeps the audience on the edge of their seats by announcing each of the many scenes with impressive soundings of varying rifts played on a massive Taiko drum displayed in the theatre‚Äôs loft.
The three unseen stars of this play are Scenic Designer Erin Chanfrau, Lighting Designer Kristen Zetterstrom and Costume Designer Naarah McDonald.
Burnham Wood to Lakewood Playhouse has come! Chanfrau‚Äôs set has Burnham Wood rising from the stage entrances casting its tendrils around the theatre walls bringing the audience into the action. Zetterstrom‚Äôs lighting lends to the eerie look of the witch-filled wood and the gloomy castle. McDonald‚Äôs costumes are perfect in design and execution adding yet another brick to the complete building of this production.
As to the cast, it is large, 24 actors playing about 46 parts.
The drumsticks are expertly wielded by Josh Johnson ‚Äî his non-vocal addition to the play sets the scenes perfectly.
The supernumeraries include Jason Boggs as Fleance, Russ Coffey as a Scottish Doctor, Lex Gernon as Donaldbain, Coleman Hagerman as Servant, and Walker Hardin as Angus. All do nice jobs in these roles and the several other ‚Äúwalk-ons‚Äù assigned to them.
Additional cast members with larger roles plus several others are: Joseph Fries is good as the Bloody Captain, Amber Rose Johnson is charming as Lady Macduff, Joe Kelly is dastardly as Murderer Two and comical in various other roles, Robert McConkey is evil as Murderer One, Jane McKittrick is quite nice as a Gentlewoman and Kelty Pierce is very good as the son of Macduff; she dies superbly!
Luke Amundson is excellent as Banquo. Scott C. Brown charmingly lends the comic relief in the form of the Porter admonishing the door knockers interrupting his drinking and sleep. Christopher Gilbert is dutifully kingly as Duncan the murdered monarch. Mark Peterson is excellent as Lennox.
Cynthia Lawlis is Witch One, Katy Shockman Witch Two and Kristal Gibelyou is Witch Three. These three have beautifully created independent characterizations for each equally weird sister. Lawlis is demanding and dark, Shockman is cunningly conniving and Gibelyou is adroit and unbelievably flexible.
Randy Clark is brilliant as the Scottish Nobleman Ross the announcer of information between Macbeth and the royal family. Gabriel McClelland is outstanding, lending grace to Malcolm, Duncan‚Äôs son who later wins his father‚Äôs throne.
Rebecca Wood is Lady Macbeth. She exudes love, avarice and insanity with aplomb. Wood physically holds herself befitting her role moving about the stage with finesse and confidence.
Bryan K. Bender is Macbeth, the king‚Äôs general who becomes king. Bender is admirable in the demanding role. His transition from loyal follower to arrogant leader be-smitten by the witch‚Äôs prophetic announcement is very well done.
However, Joseph Grant as Macduff, rules the production. His movements are forceful, his delivery eloquent, he handles himself well while engaged in sword play and his characterization perfect; dynamic work.
Macbeth continues at the Lakewood Playhouse in the northeast section of the Lakewood Towne Center, behind the Pierce Transit Depot through November 16 each Friday and Saturday evening at 8 and Sunday matinees at 2 with a special Pay-What-You-Can night set for Thursday, November 6 and an Actor‚Äôs Benefit matinee Saturday, November 15.
For reservations or more information, call (253) 588-0042 or go online to www.lakewoodplayhouse.com. The Playhouse is also celebrating the installation of its new air conditioning and heating system.