Hart House Theatre presentsWilliam Shakespeare’s MacbethSeptember 12-21Directed by David GardnerWith Chris Coculuzzi, Pip Dwyer, Joel Grothe, Jeremy Hutton, Martin Edmonds, Laryssa Yanchak, and Julian DeZottiThere are two kinds of “good” student productions. The first are those that are good for what they are—largely amateur, low-budget, earnestly performed pieces of work. The second, though, are rare, and are just plain good —they blow away your expectations and leave you wanting more. Hart House Theatre’s Macbeth is one of these rarities, and stands among the best theatrical productions mounted on campus in several years.Backed by a dark, cavern-like set designed by Sherri Catt, the mammoth cast of twenty-nine moved expertly through Shakespeare’s epic, delivering lines with the ease of common English without losing the poetry of the verse. Under the experienced direction of theatre veteran David Gardner, Macbeth became a story not about violence, bloodshed, and madness, but about personalities. “It is…a haunting study of human vulnerability and the power of fate in one’s life,” Gardner says in the program notes. “I have attempted first and foremost to humanize the play.” With staging decisions that brought out often-ignored aspects of the play, and performances that stayed on the right side of the line between emotional and over-the-top, Gardner and his cast managed to achieve this goal.With a cast this size, developing chemistry and believable relationships on stage often becomes a problem. Not so with this production, as each and every member of the cast was integrated into both the stage action and the story as a whole. Chris Coculuzzi, as the play’s title character, was outperformed by several of his castmates in the play’s opening act, but came alive after the murder of Duncan and grew increasingly powerful as the play went on. As Lady Macbeth, Pip Dwyer gave a performance that was both fiercely emotional and subtly nuanced, pushing to the brink of madness in her sleepwalking scene without falling into the trap of overacting. Also of note were Joel Grothe’s Banquo, Martin Edmonds’ Duncan, and Jeremy Hutton’s Macduff, three supporting characters that made excellent foils to Coculuzzi’s Macbeth. The technical aspects of the show were as solid as the performances. The blocking of large crowd scenes was superb, and utilized the many levels of the set to the fullest advantage. Catt’s costume design was equally effective, using flowing shapes and neutrals and jewel tones to create costumes suited to both individual characters and the design of the show as a coherent unit. The original soundtrack of the production, composed and conducted by Trevor Rines, was stark, eerie, and the perfect accompaniment to the production’s quiet darkness.In theatre superstition, it’s considered bad luck to say the name “Macbeth” aloud, but with a production of this calibre, shout the name from the rooftops. It’s obvious that bad luck has already passed it by.

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