nytheatre.com review by Will Fulton
September 10, 2010
Inertia Productions' TheBcam/Macbeth is a self-professed "mixed media deconstruction of the classic Shakespeare story of evil." In practice this means that under the direction of Kevin Kittle, the ensemble has exploded Shakespeare's text into a surreal dreamscape of projections and shifting screens, populated by a wide range of contemporary characters whose stories are loosely themed around the potential for human evil. The additional text was provided by the ensemble themselves and playwright Don Nigro.
While this extra material is compelling in its own right, it feels loosely integrated at best. Carrie Watt wonderfully captures the charming awkwardness of Bridget, a 13-year-old aspiring feminist/wiccan/goth living in the shadow of her cool older sister. She struggles to come to terms with her own burgeoning sense of self in a world filled with alcoholic June Cleaver housewives, lecherous porn producers, and an animal-torturing/aspiring serial killer classmate. These characters, while certainly interesting on their own, only feel connected to the plot of Macbeth by virtue of their juxtaposition. A bizarre coda at the end of the piece attempts to shock the audience into some sort of recognition that might tie the whole piece together, but what this intended recognition was remained elusive.
Moreover, the additional material does the double disservice of further shortening the already heavily cut text of Macbeth. Audience members without a passing knowledge of the plot would have considerable trouble following along. Danielle Liccardo and Lawrence Ballard give strong turns as Lady Macbeth and Banquo, respectively, and help to anchor the show's unmoored plot. Charlie Sandlan's Macbeth, however, leaves something to be desired. This may be less the fault of the actor than that of the text, though, as his journey has been truncated to the point that he is unable to properly hit the emotional beats of his fall from grace, leaving his performance feeling disjointed.
That being said, the show is never boring. At any given moment there is something interesting happening somewhere on stage as scenes dreamily drift in and out of focus. This is largely due to Jared Mezzocchi and Theo Macabeo's media design, which is thoroughly integrated with Doug Durlacher's set, Liam Billingham's lights, and Nicholas R. Nelson's sound design. Their designs play together to produce an engaging dreamscape wherein theatrical time and space collapse in on themselves and any surface can become a screen at a moment's notice.
Engaging aesthetic aside, however, the piece is ultimately dissatisfying. The abundance of new material mashed together with Shakespeare's text leads to a breadth-over-depth approach, with the final result feeling simultaneously overwrought and underdeveloped. There is a lot to like in this production, and it could very easily be reworked to be two separate pieces of enjoyable theatre. Unfortunately, however, the whole fell a little short of its components' sum.