Friday, December 13, 2013
By STEVE FEENEY
Ambition, in one form or another, has fueled the plots of most dramas. The Fenix Theatre Company, whose ambition is to bring classical theater to outdoor audiences in southern Maine, has worked up a condensed version of one of the most powerful stories in that vein. Its no-nonsense take on Shakespeare's "Macbeth," as reviewed at Deering Oaks on Saturday night, gets to the point (ahh, those daggers) in about 75 minutes.
"Macbeth" by Fenix Theatre Company
WHERE: Deering Oaks, Portland (6:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays) and Bowdoin College Quad, Brunswick (6 p.m. Thursdays)
DATE REVIEWED: July 21; continues through August 11
TICKETS: Free (donations welcome)
CONTACT: 400-6223; fenixtheatre.com
It's not clear who did the editing for the production directed by Bryant Mason but, inevitably, things seem a bit rushed as Macbeth and his lady whip through the phases of their disastrous trajectory.
Rob Cameron, a founder of the company along with Mason, takes the lead role and keeps the gas pedal pretty much near the floorboard throughout. This is good because he, unlike some other cast members, can be heard above the ducks, planes, radios, kids and wandering cranks heard periodically in the park. But it was hard for Cameron, as it would be for anyone, to take on the reflective tone that would best suit some of his lines. After the performance, Cameron mentioned a desire to get microphones for next year.
Abigail Killeen, as Lady Macbeth, was able to get at the dangerous craziness in her character's push to have her husband go straight to the top of the kingdom by any means necessary. But her character's eventual breakdown, often a creepy highlight in stage productions, played less powerfully on the walkway by the pond in the park (the production moves to the Bowdoin College Quad on Thursdays).
Sally Wood was dynamic as Banquo. She benefitted from some nice choreography as her ghostly presence, wrapped in red sashes (which were used as signifiers of blood throughout the show) dragged the famous witches (Brittany Cook, Allison McCall and Molly Bryant Roberts) along as she pursued the terrified Macbeth. The final fight scene, which she co-directed, was also effective in a production that mostly stuck to the thinking behind the action.
The all-white costumes gave the show a sort of clinical feel that could, in some ways, be seen as a carryover from last year's production of "Waiting For Godot." Some nice percussive sound effects were bracing and added a welcome dimension.
Benedetto Robinson, Josh Vink, Susan Garrett and Maureen Butler rounded out the cast in what is a "Macbeth" that flies by for a quick, but not unrewarding, tour of a classic play.
Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.