Something wicked comes to the beach

Bard on the Beach’s Macbeth is one for the purists, and one that blends quality performances with simple but stylish design choices; all a bard lover ever wants in the end. (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Daniel J. Rowe

While there are no gripes here about modern interpretations, different takes and whimsically inspired remakes of Shakespeare plays, there is something entirely satisfying about straight up productions.

“Something wicked this way comes.”

Take the meandering path to the Bard on the Beach tents at Vanier Park, and enter the witches brew of all tragedies found deep in the bogs of Scotland: Macbeth is on, the Scottish play, and you should check it out.

Director Chris Abraham went straight up performance and passion for this take on the bloody and brooding play, and it’s pulled off to great effect.

Casting is on point with Ben Carlson (Macbeth) nicely balancing madness, ambition, regret and power alongside the equally ambitious, unstable and ultimately tragic Lady Macbeth, played with skill and style by Moya O’Connell.

I took my 12-year-old nephew to the play hoping he would get a kick out of some live theatre, while at the same time being a bit nervous he would find it scary or disturbing. I don’t have kids, so never really know what parents think about these things. Oh well. He came. He loved it.

Note: take your kids to Shakespeare plays. They will enjoy.

Things needed to make the Scottish play work well: quality lead couple, cool witches, good choreography, believable death scenes, and a severed head if you have it. This one had them all. Well done.

Harveen Sandhu, Emma Slipp & Kate Besworth add what quality witches need to add for Macbeth to work. (Photo, Tim Matheson)

Though I’ve read and seen the play multiple times (including one unfortunate production in high school that left me feeling very sad for the actors, who my brat classmates kept mocking aloud), Abraham’s staging and the performances kept me on the edge of my seat hoping, hoping, hoping against what I knew that certain decisions were not made that way. It’s such a great play.

Of course no amount of stage style matters in this play if the two leads don’t have chemistry. O’Connell and Carlson embrace the challenge. They are ravenous for each other as they desperately cling to each other and their power with tragic passion.

BOB has extended this play through September. Don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow to see it or it shall be gone in a brief shadow.

The chemistry between Ben Carlson and Maya O’Connell is palpable and passionate, making the consequences of their ambition that much more real. (Photo, Tim Matheson)

Once again, it’s a great play. Go see it.

 

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