Macbeth in the South Pacific? Theater 2020 Makes it Work

These days, it seems, almost everyone who does Shakespeare wants to do it in a non-traditional setting; something that makes it more relevant to our contemporary world than to sixteenth century England. Many of these are successful. Among them were Theater 2020’s 2011 production of Romeo and Juliet, and their The Real Merry House Wives of Windsor Connecticut. Now, under the able direction of Brooklyn Heights resident David Fuller, they’ve done it again.

I’ll confess, I was initially skeptical about taking Macbeth from cold, foggy Scotland, a place whose spirit seems to permeate the play, and re-setting it on a tropical island in the Pacific. It did involve some changes to the usual costuming, as the photo shows (left to right: Melody Lam as Lady Macbeth, Justin Bennett as Ross, and Hunter MacNair as Macbeth). The script is straight from the Bard, except for a few place name changes. The three witches — Kotikoti (Nettie Chickering, Mehua (Otter Lee), and Kaiwhatu (Jeneen Terrana) — have Maori names that translate as the Three Fates in Greek mythology. They embody the spirit world of the island’s indigenous people. They and the rest of the cast are all superb. Mr. MacNair’s Macbeth convincingly portrays the character’s journey from doubt to vaulting ambition to guilt-ridden anguish to trapped fury. Ms. Lam’s Lady Macbeth is a cunning enabler of her husband’s murderous usurpation, but descends into dream-haunted madness. Malcolm, portrayed by Jennifer Reddish, proves the maxim that revenge is a dish best served cold; letting Macduff (Jordan Laroya) finish off Macbeth in a sword fight expertly directed by Rod Kinter. Strong performances are also given by Trevor Liu as Banquo and Michael Twaine as Duncan, and as their respective ghosts. The small venue of the McKinney Chapel puts you close to the action wherever you are sitting.

There are five remaining performances at the McKinney Chapel of the First Unitarian Congregational Society, 116 Pierrepont Street (between Monroe Place and Clinton). They are: tomorrow (Thursday, June 1); Friday, June 2; and Saturday, June 3; all at 8:00 PM; Sunday, June 4, at 4:00 PM; Thursday, June 8 and Friday, June 9, both at 8:00 PM. There’s more information and a complete schedule here; you may buy tickets here.

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