Macbett | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Macbett 

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MACBETT, Division 13 Productions and Greasy Joan & Company, at the Chopin Theatre. Director Joanna Settle clearly has an exacting vision; it seems no element escapes her notice in this production of Eugene Ionesco's dark, absurdist romp through Shakespeare's Macbeth. On Andrew Lieberman's sublimely garish set--a severe expanse of wood-grain paneling and featureless carpet that lumbers gracelessly almost into the audience's lap--the play seems a kind of nightmarish raver party. The tyrant archduke Duncan is a dissipated, pajama-clad hedonist doted upon by his ultrafey assistant. His wife, a thrift-store dominatrix in mile-high heels, betrays him by conspiring with twin assassins Macbett and Banco, who seem pulled from a 1980s new wave clothing catalog. Once Macbett assumes the throne, he's transformed into a maniacal Vegas performer surrounded by sycophantic minions in white isolation suits and Day-Glo plastic wigs.

Visually this Macbett is always interesting, and Settle's use of the Chopin Theatre's cavernous space produces more than a few ingenious surprises. But ultimately she smothers Ionesco's already disjointed text--he never worried much about things like cause and effect--under too many clashing styles and ideas. The production seems to be going in ten directions at once, and no meaningful stage world ever develops. Fortunately Terry Hamilton's volatile, deeply felt performance as Macbett goes a long way toward giving this conceptually overloaded staging a bit of soul.

--Justin Hayford

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