Colonial Theater’s 'Macbeth' is foreboding fun

The haunting melody of "Double, double, toil and trouble" chimes throughout Wilcox Park every night as the Colonial Theater performs "Macbeth" for 2012's Shakespeare in the Park.

Marion Markham, Bonnie Griffin and Shannon Hartman mystify as the three witches who present the prophecy that sets the stage for all the events in the play. Thanks to the sound system, their terrifying spells, spoken in unison, can be heard clearly from all corners of the park. Although the sound cuts out at times throughout the play, minute to minute it pays off in a big way as cries of pain, suffering and revenge ring out throughout the two-hour performance.

Director Harland Meltzer does not shy away from the brutality of the play, as it contains several violent murders, fights and even a few battles. The Colonial Theater has been boasting about the stage combat of "Macbeth" for good reason; it works perfectly and keeps the audience on edge.

Emily Trask does a slow burn as Lady Macbeth, the play's "devil on your shoulder" character. She starts out with an average performance as the wife of Mark Corkins' Macbeth, convincing him to take the throne of Scotland from King Duncan through murder. However, Trask really begins to shine as the play goes on and her character loses her sanity. She flexes her acting muscles as she unleashes her madness, highlighting the darkness of guilt that is a central theme of Shakespeare's play.

Corkins' is believable as the humble war hero Macbeth at the beginning of the play, the guilt-ridden maniac in the middle, and the ambitious villain at the end. His deep voice commands the audience's attention.

Other noteworthy performances come from Jamie Dufault as Malcolm, Duncan's son. Dufault shares an extraordinary and intense scene with the play's breakout performer, John-Patrick Driscoll, who is making his first Westerly Shakespeare in the Park appearance as Macduff, a nobleman who does not support Macbeth's seizure of the throne. In the scene, the two venture away from the stage and into the audience, as Dufault impresses with his youthful wisdom and Driscoll demonstrates the animalistic intensity of a man bent on revenge.

Paul Romero provides some comic relief as the drunken Porter, who stumbles to answer a pounding at the door earlier on in the play. He delights children and adults as he relieves himself in almost every possible way on stage and plays around with accents as a loveable drunk. While talking like a hillbilly may not be believable in 11th-century Scotland, no one was able to complain through their laughter as he literally rolled off the stage to make his exit.

One wouldn't expect a play that takes place outdoors in the park to have the production values like those of Colonial Theater's. Fog machines make it so the witches perform in a thick haze that makes seeing them difficult but in the most gleefully terrifying way. The set is made of several vertical wooden planks that allow a bit of colored light to shine through from behind in times of madness, calm and violence, adding a surprising visual element to a seemingly simple setup.

At the end of the performance, after the cast had taken their bow, Paul Romero spoke to the crowd with two simple requests. The first was to request that if they liked what they saw to please give a generous donation. The second was for people to leave and "tell (their) friends what's going on in Wilcox Park and tell them to get their butts down here and check it out!"


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