Red is the color of passion, energy, and action. Macbeth is fueled by these same psychological elements on his prophetic and treacherous path to the throne of Scotland. The Pittsburgh Classic Player’s production at the Maker Theater falls on the paler side of the spectrum of Macbeth’s own blood stained hands.
To do Shakespeare requires one to DO Shakespeare. Whether this be to fully envelop the production in it’s original setting or to reinvent his timeless work, it requires steadfast commitment. The Pittsburgh Classic Players find themselves walking this line and not knowing which side to fall upon. The set was bold and provocative. The stage fittingly painted a rich crimson while around the space grew the expansive web of packing tape where in it’s center lay Macbeth’s own throne. I was excited for this metaphor, the sticky oppression of his unabashed desire to become king, to be carried through the rest of the production. But, it slowly lost it’s resonance with the character’s falling toward a more classical interpretation of the piece.
Leading Scotland as Macbeth and Lady were Brett Sullivan Santry and Hilary Caldwell. They each surpassed what some might perceive as the inaccessibility of Shakespeare’s language today and let their emotion drive their words. Santry was vigorous, callous, and pained while Caldwell’s Lady Macbeth felt more perceptive, cunning, and refined making the pairing a success.
The scenes had good momentum as they moved throughout the space, but felt tentative. Exits were immediately followed with entrances making the stage a multi-dimensional area that intertwined the characters and their plots. Once the scenes took off in their modern, interpretive surroundings there was an apparent incongruity. It seemed the Classic Players wanted to both remain faithful to the work while also trying to tackle a contemporary rendition. This contemporary aspect was developed during the weird witches’ Act II scene. With the head witch, Hecate, played by director, Johnny Adkins, joining the sisters, Macbeth’s prophecy was delivered in an unnerving and clever way. It was moments like these that would’ve bolstered the strength of the show that was left spending the majority of its time unsure of how to define itself.
The Pittsburgh Classic Players allow the sins from Macbeth’s hands to wash away too easily. They need to command the show’s passion, energy, and action into a more lasting stain to truly call their production “The Feel-Bad Play of the Holiday Season”.
Special thanks to the Pittsburgh Classic Players for complimentary press tickets. Macbeth runs at the Maker Theater through December 19th. For tickets and more information, click here.