The depth of darkness in Macbeth is overwhelming. Shakespeare weaves unchecked greed, ambition and eventual madness in line after line, through characters so flawed they could pass for today’s politicians.
So if a company is going to tackle a work that has been around since the early 1600s, it better bring some serious game. You can’t fake evil and conflicted souls. So it is with that premise that I give two daggers up to the cast and crew of the Jobsite Theater production of this master work.
Director David M. Jenkins adapted this play in interesting ways, starting with the editing room. That’s right, he trimmed some of the dialogue from the play. If you edit the Bard, you best be careful. Well, it worked. As the play moved along, I didn’t really think about what wasn’t there.
Then there was his use of the four powers — Jonathan Cho, Maggie Mularz, Chris Holcomb and Katrina Stevenson — in multiple roles. Those four never left the stage, moving easily and convincingly between different characters. I was particularly struck by Stevenson’s portrayal of one of the witches who tells Macbeth that he will one day be king.
Dayton Sinkia was righteous as the aggrieved Macduff, out to avenge the murder of his wife, Lady Macduff, finely played by Nicole Jeannine Smith.
But this play hung on the talents of Giles Davies as Macbeth and Dahlia Legault as the conniving, manipulative Lady Macbeth. They were terrific.
Did I say manipulative?
Once her husband told her of the witches’ prophesy, she wasn’t inclined to wait for nature to remove King Duncan from the throne so Macbeth could occupy it. No, only murder would do, and when Macbeth is tortured at the thought of so vile a deed, his lady nonchalantly advises, “Consider it not so deeply.”
Wracked with guilt over his crime, Macbeth later laments, “Duncan is in his grave. He sleeps well.”
We see the inner conflict from all characters as they peel back layers of human conscience, only to choose darkness and desire every time. Power can be an irresistible seductress.
And I’ll give another nod to Jenkins’ decision to weave modern elements into this ancient tale. Start with the costumes. No robes or the kind of classic garb you might expect from Shakespeare. Legault might as well have been dressed for a modern day at the office. And when Macduff and Macbeth seem ready to settle affairs with an old-fashioned shootout, you might wonder if they had handguns in 1607.
They did not, of course. But the use of such props accomplished what I assume was Jenkins’ goal of communicating that although the story may be centuries old, things haven’t really changed so much after all.
This play runs through Nov. 24 at the Shimberg Playhouse in the Straz Center. It’s worth the trip.