The Aquila Theatre delivers 'MacBeth' with force

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Before there were natural born killers Mickey and Mallory, there were the MacBeths.

Grandfather of the Western literary and dramatic tradition, Shakespeare was the first of his kind to harness universal themes we continue to investigate clear into the new millennia, such as the dynamic of human power struggles.

His writing set the stage, so to speak, for much of the best literature and cinema we have today. His interest in the dynamics of human power struggles have influenced mankind for centuries, which is why Sunday, Popejoy Hall filled with Shakespeare enthusiasts there for the short, bloody "Tragedy of MacBeth."

Boasting a Scottish and English cast with several ties to Royal Shakespeare Company, this rendition of "MacBeth" effortlessly found the truth in the tale, a feat not always easily accomplished in a Shakespeare production.

There were no props or backdrops in this play. Instead, the stage was stripped down, dark and smoky at all times, with the actors clad in black clothing.

The effect not only enhanced the dark tone of the play, but forced the audience's attention on the actors and the rich language of their lines, which are of course the core of this, and any, Shakespeare play.

With language so removed from our everyday way of speaking, actors often seem disconnected to their lines during a play such as "MacBeth," but Sunday's performance proved quite the contrary.

The actors delivered their lines with such natural force and conviction that they never appeared awkward or archaic. It is often said that to appreciate Shakespeare it must be taken off the page and placed on the stage for each line to come to life and possess its full genius and power.

The Aquila Theatre Co. accomplished this.

Lady MacBeth, played by Rebecca Reaney, was especially captivating. She expertly brought forth the underlaying motif in the play, which is the relationship between cruelty and masculinity, when she denounces her femininity so as to become a cold blooded murderess.

In her debut scene, where she delivers the lines, "Come to my woman's breasts, and take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers," she was in every way literature's first femme fatale come to life, the genesis of every villainous woman character ever written, the Eve archetype at her finest.

An interesting, modern twist to the play was the character Ross, who was played by a woman, Rachael Barrington.

The costumes also had a simple, yet modern approach. The soldiers wore black berets and fatigues with their swords while the women were elegant in silk, sleeveless evening gowns.

While this play lacked very much visual stimulation, it is a must see for any Shakespeare purist more interested in the play's language than set design.