By R. Pikser
are two types of theater. One is bare-bones and can be very exciting: Only the
performers, the text, and the imagination. The other type of theater involves
as many elements as possible: the text, or choreography, the performance, the
lighting, the sets, the costumes. Francis Patrelle’s production of Macbeth
gave us an hour and 50 minutes of the latter sort of theater. Rita B. Watson’s
lavish costumes, with material flowing everywhere, still allowed the movement
to be seen; David Grill’s lighting turned hanging cloths into eerie
Stonehenge-like pillars, then into three-dimensional palace columns; Gillian
Bradshaw-Smith’s huge dolmen, dominating upstage center, seemed the progenitor
of the pillars and was worshipped by everyone aspiring to power, as it cast its
curses upon all.
Patrelle has changed the story that we know from Shakespeare, having the
witches and their apprentices foment the evil and carry out most of the
murders. The idea is interesting, but Mr. Patrelle did not quite make the
connection between the Macbeths’ lust for power, resulting in their murder of
King Duncan, and the witches as the source, or at least the guides, of that
lust. Further, because the witches, rather than Macbeth, kill everyone except Duncan,
the audience does not understand why the Macbeths should later be so upset when
the ghosts of all the dead appear to them.
Photos by Rosalie O’Connor
choreography of the piece was fairly simple, but well-rehearsed and cleanly
executed. Mr. Patrelle’s use of unison movement lends power to the steps. The
lifts, though, were exceptional. They also were cleanly performed, were always
interesting and often unusual. Though the dancers move cleanly, they are not
quite aware of how to use the classical movements to communicate the drama
required by the ballet. One of the loveliest sections of the ballet was the
farewell duet between Macduff (Maximillien Baud) and Lady Macduff (Therese Wendler).
The Macduffs are not caught up in the lust for the crown and both the dancers
are lyrical dancers, which works well for them and for the ballet. They
performed their love duet with pleasure and tenderness. But the thrust of the
ballet is power and the men generally did not find a way to make their
choreography reflect their characters’ needs, especially the will to power.
Mr. Patrelle gave the witches prime importance and he gave the idea of the
crown equal importance. It appeared and reappeared. Almost everyone lusted
after it, longed for it, tried it on. Yet the dancers, apart from Lady Macbeth
never infused their movement with that lust.
Beth Hansohn’s Lady Macbeth was the standout of the evening. Her choreography,
like that of everyone else, was basically classical, but she managed to
initiate each movement from a place of passion, of love, of hate, of
distraction, or of whatever was dramatically necessary at the moment. The
classical movements looked new and thrilling again. They showed the inner soul
of the character. This is what dramatic dance can do.
between Park and Lexington Avenues
$45 general admission, senior and student discounts at door