Macbeth Presented by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. October 19-November 19, 2004. Directed by Bonnie J. Monte. Set by Michael Schweikardt. Costumes by Frank Champa. Lighting by Brenda Gray. Sound by Richard M. Dionne. Fights by Rick Sordelet. With Robert Cuccioli (Macbeth), Laila Robins (Lady Macbeth), Gregory Derelian (Macduff, Macdonwald), Raphael Nash Thompson (Duncan), Jimonn Cole (Malcolm), Michael Stewart Allen (Banquo), Eric Hoffmann (Porter), Melissa T. Miller (Lady Macduff, Witch), Corey Tazmania (Lady Macbeth's Gentlewoman, Witch), Caralynn Kozlowski (Witch), Austin Colaluca (Fleance), and others.
One of the harrowing ironies of Shakespearean tragedy is that the evil are accorded the most discerning moral sense. Having abandoned righteousness, they see it from without, more clearly and distinctly than those who abide. Their moral perspicacity serves as a convenience for the playwright, since the evildoers now can conduct us, lighting the way with a fine-tuned sense of wrong and right.
In the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's production of Macbeth, one such discerning character was Lady Macbeth. As played by the superb Laila Robins, she had already decided you have to be bad to be great, and that her husband was "not without ambition, but without / The illness should attend it." To her irritable impatience, he'd love to have the throne by foul play, as long as he didn't have to do the foul play himself: "wouldst not play false / And yet wouldst wrongly win." Her discernment marked her as evil--as damned and damning.
As interpreted by director Bonnie J. Monte and company, Macbeth is an encounter with human evil--its sources, motivations, and consequences--to spur terror in a time of terror. In an interview, Monte said she wished "to resurrect what is frightening about this play ... [T]o honor this play, and to bridge the Jacobean and the contemporary audiences, I found myself feeling that the rediscovery of the sources of human evil was the really terrifying thing here."
What to do with the weird sisters? Styled as Witches in this production, they were the decision to do evil. Once Macbeth set eyes and ears on them, he had decided--and was terrified. From 1.3 forward, he was never free from them. When he left the stage with Lady Macbeth in 1.5, thrilled with violence and evil and sex, a Witch followed them off. The Witches dogged his step, observed the carnage, emerged from shadows, insinuated themselves among the guests at the banquet in act three. As he sank deeper into the consequences of his acts, Macbeth became more and more the Witches' intimate, preferring one in particular, blonde like his wife. Several of Macbeth's agonized soliloquies took place on a loveseat in his boudoir. As the play drew on, his chosen Witch approached the loveseat little by little, perched on it, moved nearer to Macbeth. A visual echo of Lady Macbeth, she was a beckoning into further intimacy with darkness.
King James I and other protestant theorists believed damnation begins on earth. …