By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
Despite their best intentions, the Beowulf Alley Theatre Company production of “MacBeth’s Knife” is never going to be ready for prime time. The program lists the director as “Nobody.”
That is unfortunately the truth, because it looks like nobody was in charge of directing this one. Few of the actors have any particular stage presence. While the language belongs to Shakespeare, this particular “Nobody” also takes credit for adapting the Scottish play to emphasize its psychological impact.
That could be true, but it wasn’t clear at a recent performance. Of course, with more acting and less screaming the intention might have worked a little better. “Nobody” and the cast have bought into the notion that powerful emotions can be conveyed by screaming and shouting.
Alas and forsooth, that has never been true of Shakespeare or any other playwright.
There are some good elements that do give the production interesting twists worth developing. In an early scene, MacDuff (Gary Tyrrell) is seen in the background talking on a cell phone. MacDuff, Banquo and MacBeth are dressed in modern soldier gear, as well.
Banquo is played by Sara Jackson in a nice gender surprise, with Aaron Guisinger giving MacBeth a punkster sense of street smarts.
There is a simulated sex scene, but it is between MacBeth and Lady MacBeth (Bree Boyd-Martin), so the MacBeths are married at least.
The most imagination – as is often the case in productions of “MacBeth” – is found in the staging of those scenes with the three witches. Armen Sarrafian makes his witch sexually ambiguous, which feels perfect. Melanie Kersey’s witch is a voluptuous bad girl, also an excellent choice.
Shannon Rzucidlo fills her witch with sinister drama that combines seductive intentions and an edgy madness. The kind of beauty you can love while fearing for your own safety.
Nor is there any bubbling cauldron around which these three unholy ghouls famously chant “Double, double, toil and trouble.” Instead, this trio of lost souls go slinking about the stage with a threatening hunger, making their devilish recitation particularly ominous.
When we get to the really bloody parts toward the end, there is lots of stage blood, a couple of knives effectively used and several bouts of hand-to-hand fighting. These action parts work best -- of course – because there is no one speaking required.
Is this enough to justify the ticket price? Deciding that part is up to you.
“MacBeth’s Knife” continues in repertory with "Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief," adapted from Shakespeare's "Othello,"
through Sept. 22 at Beowulf Alley Theatre, 11 S. Sixth Ave.
"MacBeth's Knive plays at 2:30 p.m. Saturday- Sunday, Sept. 14-15; at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21.
Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 for seniors, military and teachers, $10 students. For reservations, 520-882-0555. For details, www.beowulfalley.com