Monday, July 08, 2013

The Dark Night - Macbeth - Play Review

Macbeth - Canadian Stage Company's Shakespeare in High Park Amphitheatre - Toronto, ON - **** (out of 5 stars)
Written by William Shakespeare, Directed by Ker Wells
Runs until Sep. 1 2013

The summer tradition of Shakespeare in the park continues in Toronto's High Park with Canadian Stage doing its first non-Romeo & Juliet tragedy in a place usually reserved for the lighter comedic and romantic Shakespeare repertoire. Instead, while we will be getting some comedy on alternating nights with The Taming of the Shrew, Canadian Stage opens the summer with a dark and chilling Macbeth that might be a perfect anecdote for the warm summer nights in the outdoor High Park Amphitheatre. With some haunting imagery and creepy performances, director Ker Wells, part of the collaboration Canadian Stage has made with York University's MFA Program graduates, has compacted the show into a 90 minute intermissionless experience.

With a terrific cast lead by Hugh Thompson as Macbeth, the language is beautiful articulated in the outdoor air. Add some seducing witches (in frighteningly beautiful masks and chilling voices), a jarring baby puppet (seriously freaky!) and Greg Gale (His Greatness) as a thoughtful Malcolm opposite Thompson's carnal Macbeth, and Wells' take on The Scottish Play brings out some nuances that never occurred to me before (or explained things I never realized I never understood). While I loved the way Philippa Domville spoke as Lady Macbeth, I did feel she felt underused and understated in her machinations.

The sparse but apocalyptic sets and costumes (by Lindsay C. Walker and Victoria Wallace, respectively) are fully realized in the great dinner scene when Banquo's ghost returns where we see Thompson and Banquo's Kevin MacDonald at their best. Ryan Hollyman as MacDuff, Sophie Goulet as Lady MacDuff and Jennifer Dzialoszynski as Young MacDuff nicely rounded out the cast, and I'm looking forward to seeing this group take on the lighter The Taming of the Shrew on opposite nights! (Opening July 16th, currently in previews)

Photo by David Hou Vance at

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