Shakespeare’s plays are some of the most enduring yet most challenging plays in existence.
Castleton’s theater department took a swing at this challenge last weekend performing “Macbeth,” directed by professor Harry McEnerny. As expected, the cast and crew excelled in some areas and fell short in others.
One aspect that really made the show interesting was the set. Unlike the other productions this semester, this set was large and intricately designed.
Designed by the stagecraft class, the large set pieces were innovatively engineered and decorated – and made the actors look small. This effect put the audience in the plot and helped them to view it as a fantastical story rather than real life.
Two of the four set pieces were actually functional: the spinning “hobbit hole” door and the metronome-like object.
As someone who has seen “Macbeth” performed four times, I have come to expect certain scenes to go specific ways. The Castleton cast did not follow many of those expected paths, which was surprising, but entertaining.
A great example of this is the way Ana Haytko portrayed the porter. Every time I’ve ever seen “Macbeth,” the porter does an exceptionally drunk and drawn out “knock knock. Who’s there?” Haytko, however, did a much more realistic demonstration of a drunk person, who got mad every time she asked “who’s there?”
At first, this difference confused me, but after a while I realized how effective and hilarious she had made the scene by doing it this way.
There were many clips of music used throughout the show. This was a hit or miss element that fit the scene well as often as not.
The lighting was a very important part of the show too. As characters were being killed, the lights either went down to avoid the gory mess that would ensue, or a spot was put on the character as their throats were slit in slow motion. The opening sequence also involved spot lights to dramatically introduce the main characters and the weird sisters.
I have come to know the challenges of performing Shakespeare by participating in several Shakespearean productions through Shakespeare & Co in Lenox, Mass.. Chief of those challenges is making the audience understand the archaic language. This really comes down to the intonation you use while speaking your lines and the body language you put with those words. Without these elements, Shakespearean lines and monologues can be confusing and boring for the audience.
An actress who did a truly fantastic job with her role was Haley Ryan playing Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth, being the one who instigates the killing, is a difficult character to play. Ryan really explained the words she was speaking with her actions and her tone of voice, making her an enjoyable character to watch.