Monday, May 2, 2022

Broadway Theatre Review: Macbeth with Daniel Craig

Asia Kate Dillon, Che Ayende, Danny Wolohan, Amber Gray, Daniel Craig, Emeka Guindo,Paul Lazar, Maria Dizzia, Grantham Coleman, Bobbi MacKenzie, Ruth Negga, Phillip James Brannon


Macbeth
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Sam Gold
Longacre Theatre
Through July 10

Fair is foul, and foul is fair, Hover through the fog and filthy air...

By Lauren Yarger
Something's foul, all right: it's the latest rendition of Macbeth featuring retiring James Bond film star Daniel Craig. Maybe it's the imagined stench from the disgusting cauldron in which the witches brew blood, human flesh and heaven only knows what else. More likely, it is just the smell of money and the staging of a royalty-free Broadway show with a star in it just to cause traffic at the box office. Because there can be few other reasons for mounting this production full of poor choices directed by Sam Gold.

Costume Designer Suttirat Larlarb throws some dressing gowns and large coats on the actors (making sure we get a chance to admire Craig's chiseled physique) as they walk around a bare stage with no sets, sans a few oversized comfy chairs, a very long table and some other props -- a real waste of Scenic Designer Christine Jones's talent. Macbeth (Craig) and his wife (a solid Ruth Negga in her Broadway debut) plot murder to gain power, then can't live with the guilt. I will leave you to Cliff notes if you aren't familiar with the Shakespeare classic tale of ambition and power that gives us the quote:

"Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

This quote is appropriate for this production as almost none of the choices made mean anything, including:

  • witches on stage shopping vegetables while the audience enters
  • people on the other side of the stage doing something no one could discern
  • having Michael Patrick Thornton, who plays Lennox and a murderer, wheel out in his chair on stage at the top of the show to encourage the audience to say "Macbeth" out loud in the theater (this is a theater superstition --NO ONE does this. You say The Scottish Play instead.)
  • handing an actor by his feet and having his throat slit
  • having the same actor appear later with a severed limb. We assume it was thrown in the pot from which characters are given bowls to consume. I half expected Macbeth to say he wanted his shaken, not stirred....
  • having the finale be a group sit-in while munching the brew and listening to a song composed by Gaelynn Lea. There is something evil being celebrated.
  • Staging some of the action in the wings where it was completely out of the line of site for a large portion of the audience house left.
  • Having Macbeth toss back a cold beer after a kill, causing the audience to laugh during the Sleep No More speech. AT LEAST MAKE IT A JAMES BOND MARTINI SO THE LAUGHTER WOULD BE JUSTIFIED.
  • Fog. More fog. So much fog. But dispensed by actors walking around the stage with fog machines. Some more fog came out of costumes. Why couldn't it just be a regular foggy Scotland setting? 
Even seeing Birnam Wood arrive at Dunsinanen (the site of Macbeth's castle) was a let down, despite blinding lighting effects by Jane Cox and special effects design by Jeremy Chernick.

Highlights were Negga and Amber Gray as Banquo. Everything else was a big question mark signifying nothing.

Additional credits:
Sound Design by Mikaal Sulaiman, Fight Direction by David Leong, Movement by Sam Pinkleton. Michael Sexton and Ayanna Thompson serve as dramaturgy and text consultants and Dawn-Elin Fraser serves as vocal coach.

Additional cast:
Tina Benko, Phillip James Brannon, Lizzy Brooks, Jared Canfield, Grantham Coleman, Asia Kate Dillon, Maria Dizzia, Ronald Emile, Emeka Guindo, Paul Lazar, Bobbi MacKenzie, Michal Patrick Thornton, Danny Wolohan, Che Ayende, Eboni Flowers, Stevie Ray Dallimore, and Peter Smith.

Mercifully, Macbeth is scheduled for a limited run through July 10. macbethbroadway.com

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:

-- Blood. Lots of it and gory injuries
-- Lord's name taken in vain
-- Language
-- Witches
-- Satanic ritual

COVID PROTOCOLS
All guests must wear a properly fitting mask over the nose and mouth in the theatre except when eating or drinking in designated areas. Guests who do not comply with these policies will be denied entry or asked to leave the theatre.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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