Will there be blood? That was the question at Shakespeare Orange County. The company held a fundraiser in hopes to buy the blood for the Macbeth production. They achieved their goal. Then the question became — for the audience — how much blood? It was a night of anticipation, wondering how far the director would push interpretation.
Director Thomas F. Bradac begins with a strong cast of actors. John Walcutt’s Macbeth and Evelyn Carol Case’s Lady MacBeth are emotionally and physically committed. All those famous lines stand out, such as, “Out damn spot,” and “Something wicked this way comes,” — a quotation used for a title of Ray Bradbury’s 1962 book. The stage is bloody and torn, telling what’s to come. It’s not too bloody and not gory at all. Though, Director Bradac does expect to add more blood to Banquo since he comes back from the grave. The tone is macabre, but the emphasis is exploring the human condition.
John Walcutt’s Macbeth shows how there is good and evil in all of us. His character is initially likeable, but then he is misguided by his wife Lady Macbeth. Through Walcutt’s soliloquies, the audience is captivated by his rationale of wanting to do the right thing, to being manipulated and eventually succumbing to evil and sex. After Duncan is killed The Porter (Craig Brown) walks in drunk, a reprieve, as he jests how man can be easily manipulated through sex and alcohol. Brown asks for money from those who walk in, getting a laugh from the audience. Evelyn Carol Case’s Lady MacBeth is manipulative through sex as she takes hold of Walcutt’s manhood to nag him into her evil doing. She too has many spotlighted moments as she goes crazy talking while sleep walking saying, “To bed, to bed, to bed.” When she completely loses her mind Case gives out an unnerving shrieking scream. When she dies Walcutt does not go to her side: gone are the passionate kisses. Carl Reggiardo as Banquo is supporting in his role to Macbeth as comrade in war. Reggiardo becomes jumpy, fearing for his life. Once dead he quietly walks on stage and sits at the table with Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the Lords. Walcutt asks if anyone else sees what he is seeing. He walks away from the table as Reggiardo points at him. Case’s Lady Macbeth tries to calm her husband to the point of frustration. She plays the nagging wife perfectly. The three sisters played by Alyssa Bradac, Harrison Givens and Cindy Nguyen add an evil element as they speak their spells in a monochromatic, possessed voice swaying in place to the thunder and drumming.
Torn and holey white fabric hangs from the rafters, and a wood bridge rises and falls for the cast of characters. Red paint for blood drips from the stage. Lights shine through the slightly transparent fabric casting an eerie tone set by MFA scenic design candidate at UC Irvine, Eric Barker. Through the Medici Scholar Award he was able to spend the summer of 2012 interning with international and Broadway scenic designer Allen Moyer. Some of the props by David L. Phillips are detailed shriveled heads on poles carried out by various cast members parading in front of Macbeth. The helmet held by Macbeth is metal with cut-out rows.
Costume Designer Katie Wilson uses a trinity of colors: black, grey and red. One of Lady Macbeth’s flattering dresses has a black bodice with mesh arms and a shimmery skirt that has a top draping layer. Macbeth wears a white shirt with black vest with metal tracery, a thick black jacket, dark plaid pants and boots. Some of the costuming pieces look like the actors brought their own boots and clothing to keep in budget, but stays within the motif. The Weird Sisters aren’t the typical, dressed in black witches. Their faces are painted white to look like zombies. Alyssa Bradac is the living dead shrouded in greyish torn cotton. Cindy Nguyen has a little bit of everything with a tight taffeta blue dress cut high with black spandex shorts attached to garters, hinting of a hooker. Harrison Givens’s eclectic look of dreadlocks with swimming goggles and black clothes and boots is a little bit punk-rocker reggae.
William and Jennifer Georges' original music utilizes haunting drumming to announce the entrance of the Scottish Lords. Thunder and stormy sounds encourage the Weird Sisters in their incantations.
With commitment to the text, the production is engaging and plays at an even pace. SOC’s Macbeth is immensely entertaining, with its just-right mixture of drama, comic relief, visual splendor, and sound effects.