Anyone attending the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of “Macbeth” with the preconceived notion that Shakespeare is boring will surely be disproven.
From fight sequences to gore to horror-inspired imagery, this production will have you on the edge of your seat. There are no shortages of shocking, bone-chilling moments, so be prepared for more than the alleged curse of Macbeth when you enter the theater.
Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” at its core, is a reflection of human ambition. According to director Miranda McGee it’s an exploration of “many realms of fear.”
McGee makes several artistic choices in this show to summon the fears that live in the back of your mind and appear only in nightmares. The weird sisters, playing on our fear of the unknown, have far more supernatural and inhuman qualities than you might see in other productions.
Paired with impeccable sound effects and visuals, the audience doesn’t see a run-of-the-mill portrayal of witches. Instead, it sees monsters with supernatural abilities. It’s the sort of thing a child might expect to find in his or her closet.
Along with the supernatural, the fear of a painful death is ever present. There’s no shortage of blood and gore in this production, and there’s no skimping on violent, bloody murders. Watching these themes play out on stage gives the show an unnerving edge that sticks with you after it ends.
This play shows Macbeth’s steady decent into madness, stunningly portrayed by Giles Davies. Davies, in his 19th season at the company, simultaneously shows the brutish, power-hungry side of Macbeth as well as his fearful and cowardly nature. Davies brings an intensity that is both captivating and intriguing to watch.
An equally powerful performance of Lady Macbeth, portrayed by Kelly Mengelkoch, adds to the shock factor of the overall production. Mengelkoch is the force that initiates the desire for power and prestige through any means necessary.
Together, Davies and Mengelkoch create a dynamic of hesitant greed. Though their characters ruthlessly chase the crown, they also bring a sense of uncertainty — almost as though they occasionally ask each other, “What are we doing? What have we done?” Though the overall plot may seem far-fetched and unthinkable to most, the dynamic between Davies and Mengelkoch is incredibly relatable.
My only critique of the show? It offered no dedication to Scottish accents. In the long run, it’s a minor detail that doesn’t derail the production, though it certainly would have added an extra layer of authenticity.
If you’re in the mood to be shocked — or perhaps you’ve never been interested in seeing a Shakespeare play because you hated reading "Romeo and Juliet" in high school — be sure to see this crew’s production of “Macbeth.” Just make sure you call it “the Scottish play” instead.