Anthony Minino (Macbeth) James Edward Becton, Lavita Shaurice, and Briana
Sakamoto (The Three Witches)
photos courtesy of Michael Dekker
By Nicholas Linnehan
Billed as a Multicultural cast, they utilize a diverse crew
of actors to tell their tale.
Producing Shakespeare is no easy
feat. Fab Marquee undertakes this ambitious task with their production of Macbeth
of the Oppressed. Billed as a Multicultural cast, they utilize a diverse crew
of actors to tell their tale. However, their concept is only half-baked and
leaves us wondering if they have really delivered on their assertions.
How far would you go to get the
crown? What would you do to remain in power? These questions are central to Macbeth
of the Oppressed. After receiving a prophecy from the Three Witches, which
hails Macbeth as the soon to be king, Macbeth becomes obsessed with rising to
power and, once there, remaining untouchable. Through murder, deceit, and
ominous plots, Macbeth's rise to glory comes at a significant price. This play
proves that for every action there is a consequence.
I've seen many Shakespearean
plays where actors of different ethnicities are used. Thus this production,
while they definitely have some diversity, is not doing anything extraordinary
in their casting. If you are going to claim multiculturalism, we expect more
than just a few ethnic actors interspersed. Also, the title leaves unanswered
questions; who is being oppressed? Right now, this is a modern take on Macbeth,
but offers little information on what makes this production about Of the
Oppressed, What this production does well lies in its cross-gendered
casting. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are gay lovers and Macduff is a lesbian. This
is perhaps the most interesting element of the production. Yet, it was unclear
what the purpose behind these casting choices are.
Concepts aside, the show itself
only partially works. Macbeth, played by Anthony Minino is hard to understand.
The audience has trouble following him, especially during moments of great
emotion when his speech gets more blurred. But Minino is not the only
challenge, many of the actors are clearly “acting” on stage. Susan G. Bob plays
“Queen” Duncan and is so deliberate in her choices and vocalization that we
wonder if she's truly connecting with anyone. “Master” Macbeth played by David
Stallings also emotes well, but it comes across as fake as it is too
heightened. These are good actors working very hard, but it is too forced and
thus appears over-the top and not believable.
Yet, there are some bright spots.
Elisabeth Preston plays Banquo well. She sinks into her character and delivers
her dialogue with sincerity. We believe her as she is not trying to force
anything to happen. Taylor Graves turns in a solid performance as Lady Macduff.
The Three Witches played by James Edward Becton, Lavita Shaurice, and Briana
Sakamoto do a nice job providing the mystery and magic of the piece. They are
on stage much of the time and add a great eeriness to the play.
The costumes, designed by Izzy
Fields enhance the production value and give us a sense of time and place.
Visually, the production is appealing. Daniel Gallagher does good work in
lighting the play. The production has some potential and moments of success,
but it needs to be rounded out to make it more cohesive.
Runs now through October
24, 2015 at the theater at the Y, 344 East 14th St.