Eerie silence. Ominous smoke. Suddenly, the battle begins!! Swords and axes clash inches from the audience. Bare-chested warriors howl as they hurl their death blows. Barefoot witches shriek with seductively sinister intent. Yes, it’s a riveting night of intrigue, assassination and madness. Who but William Shakespeare could weave such a devilish web? The play? “Macbeth!”
Director/producer/fight choreographer Alberto Bonilla with producers Richard Mazda, Jonathan Emerson and assistant director Bloo Rodriguez offer a paradoxically chilling interpretation of this medieval tragedy. No commanding armor, no toothless witches. Instead, mystical body paint covers the actors. The warriors exude fury and rage, ready to boil over at any moment. The three weird sisters (“Double, double, toil and trouble…”) are surprisingly beautiful. Nevertheless, their voices and serpentine mannerisms are intentionally disconcerting and terrifying. Bravas to Elizabeth Inghram, Kate Gunther and Annie Grier.
In the title role, Marc LeVasseur deceives us with a surprisingly clean cut and noble facade. Even his descent into unrestrained arrogance and madness only turns terrifying in his final duel. The same can be said for Rachel Cornish as Lady Macbeth. She is strikingly beautiful yet ruthless. Only her sleepwalking hallucination (“Out damned spot. Out I say!”) confirms her guilt and madness. Bravos to this iniquitous theatrical couple.
The three assassins (R. Alex Murray, Joel Dommel, Jonathan Emerson) are unmistakably evil in their hoods and facial war paint. Their brutal actions provide a disturbing mixture of anonymity and stage presence. Well done!
Macduff’s wrenching grief over the murders of Lady Macduff (Melissa Macleod Herion) and his subsequent strength in defeating his enemy is a powerful and well acted turn by John Zdrojeski.
Most appealing about the Queens Players’ version is the blurring of lines between hero and villain. Both sides display varying degrees of blind ambition, family loyalty and ferocious violence. Kudos to Jim Anderson as King Duncan, John Cormier’s Banquo, Sean Hoagland (Malcom), Peter Collier (Fleance),Alexander Stine, Hannah Beck as Ross, Juliette Biry, Marcela De Luna and Darby Hannon.
Outstanding and talented backstage support includes stage management (Jasmin Sanchez),makeup design (Emily Lambert), lighting design (Jesse Sheldon), Scenic Design (Asako Nemoto), costume design (Kima Balfour) and music (Will Stackpole).
“Macbeth” is currently at the Secret Theatre at 4402 33rd Street in Long Island City. Check www.secrettheatre.com or (718) 392-0722.
What’s next this summer? As always, save me a seat on the aisle.