• by William Shakespeare


Utah Shakespeare Festival

There is only one word to describe the current production of Macbeth at the Utah Shakespeare Festival: engrossing. Nearly every scene is a triumph of directing and acting that makes it obvious why Macbeth is one of Shakespeare‘s greatest tragedies.

Director Melissa Rain Anderson is a master of the stage picture, and frequently I wanted to stop the action and take a photograph because of the artful way that Anderson had arranged her actors. Whether it was the banquet scene with its Renaissance symmetry or the synchronous movements of the witches, Anderson created visually appealing scenes that easily grabbed my attention. I also appreciated the way that Anderson added ritual to the play, especially when Lady Macbeth called upon demons to “unsex” her or when Macbeth asked demons to strengthen him. Finally, Anderson was effective in putting the “horrible imaginings” of Shakespeare’s script on stage, with the murder of Lady Macduff and the appearance of the ghost of Banquo being gruesome yet compelling to see.

At just two hours (not including a 10-minute intermission), this Macbeth is a whirlwind of a production that grabs its audience forcefully and never lets go. Anderson and her virtuoso cast have created a production that displays the consequences of being “sick at heart.” I can, without reservation, recommend this Macbeth to any audience member, whether they are a Shakespeare novice or aficionado. An equally engrossing Macbeth is not going to happen in the near future . . . or so the witches tell me.

Russell Warne
Utah Theatre Bloggers

The three witches are often referred to as a collective and this production drives that point home as they often seem to be speaking as a hive mind and finish each other’s words or sentences. Director Melissa Rain Anderson has rooted this production in a heightened awareness of supernatural traditions in Scotland as well as Elizabethan superstitions and the performances of Hollis, Geer and Mugavero are as unearthly as they are riveting.

The more minor characters are most effective in conveying a sense of urgency. There are times when the Porter (Armin Shimerman) lumbers drunkenly to answer a knock on the door or guards banter easily with their lord; these are set as a stark contrast to the scenes in which characters are scrambling down staircases or fleeing up the aisles of the theater. The director’s choice to use several children in the foreground or background of the action conveys innocence or helplessness.

Scenic Designer Apollo Mark Weaver‘s Scottish setting is geared towards a state of decay and imbalance, whether with off-kilter crossbeams or trees that shed their leaves at significant moments and the dais that acts as cauldron, castle court, and conjuring circle is ingeniously used. The lighting design by Michael Pasquini appropriately emphasizes the theme of blood. Costume Designer David Kay Mickelsen provides garb that is elaborate, but era-appropriate, and hints at intentions and allegiances. Music Director Brandon Scott Grayson and Sound Designer/Original Music Composer Lindsay Jones collaborate to heighten tensions, while Fight Director Paul Dennhardt ensures that the tensions are visually riveting.

The Scottish play is running all summer long and is well worth watching soon and often. So screw your courage to the sticking place and join the Utah Shakespeare Festival for an unforgettable night at Dunsinane.

Jennifer Mustoe
Front Row Reviewers

  • Set Design: Apollo Mark Weaver
  • Costume Design: David Kay Mickelsen
  • Lighting Design: Michael Pasquini
  • Sound Design/Original Music Composer: Lindsay Jones
  • Hair/Makeup: Dana Rochester
  • Photos By Karl Hugh

Cast: Elizabeth Arnell, Kyle Bullock, Wayne T. Carr, Katie Cunningham, Todd Denning, Michael Elich, Emma Geer, Sarah Hollis, Zak Houston, Josh Jeffers, Stephanie Lambourn, Quinn Mattfeld, Andrew May, Chris Mixon, Betsy Mugavero, Trevor Neilson, James Newcomb, Emelie O’Hara, Christopher Peltier, Jim Poulos, Armin Shimerman, Kate Sowards, Jeremy Thompson, Halle Vickers, Lucy Wright, Jamil Zraikat