Mexican Wrestling Macbeth | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mexican Wrestling Macbeth 

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Self-consciously bad adaptation has lately emerged as a distinct subgenre. From Charlie Kaufman's 2002 screenplay--a train-wreck take on The Orchid Thief--to the madcap truncations of Shakespeare and Mary Shelley by Chicago's own 500 Clown, the theme of sheepish insufficiency before heavyweight texts has taken root. The Mammals are no strangers to these parts, but their seriocomic recombinations are a cut above the average grave robber's: neither unduly reverential nor dismissive, writer-director Bob Fisher's sly manipulations spring from a wizardly familiarity with his sources. In 2001, his meticulously faithful Clay Continent funneled Stevenson, Poe, and Dostoyevsky into a white-hot implosion of a finish, and earlier this year his searing No Sexit took broad liberties with Sartre that the old frog absolutely had coming. So when Mexican Wrestling Macbeth--last fall's late-night lowbrow mash-up of the Scottish play and innumerable Mexican wrestling films--comes apart at the seams, you know it isn't for lack of a plan: each buffoonish moment pratfalls nimbly into the next. Predictably, the retracing of Shakespeare disintegrates, but it rollicks on almost invisibly behind the framing tale of B- movie intrigue. For this remount, most of the excellent first-run cast have returned, bringing heightened poise and detail to their portrayals. The recasts show similar improvement: Steve Lund (as Samson) and Stephen Spurling (as the Duncan figure, Senor Director) are jauntier than their predecessors and hyperattuned to the show's hilarious convention of offstage dubbing--itself tighter this time around. Donna LaBello and Eric Thomas Roach provide the amazingly good voice-overs--a dozen vivid characters in all--and the manic hilarity of their performances puts everyone else at the top of their game. Last year this was a damn funny show; now it's firing on all cylinders. Bailiwick Repertory, Bailiwick Arts Center, 1229 W. Belmont, 773-883-1090. Through May 29: Saturdays, 11 PM; no show May 8. $15.

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