Theatre Review: Macbeth at Le Monument National
When I heard that The Montreal Shakespeare Theatre Company was putting on Macbeth, I got very excited. I'd wanted to see a production of it ever since I studied the play four years ago and I toiled over thinking what they would do with the witches. Now, having mentioned Macbeth's witches, I might have piqued your interest or you might simply think I'm a loser for being so excited about fictional characters.
When I walked into the Studio Hydro-Quebec at the Monument National where the play was being staged, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that we were in for some theatre in the round. The set was simple and stark, some creepy music already set the mood and I was thrilled that I'd practically be sitting on stage.
To my delight once more, the play opened with not only the three witches of the text, but twelve of them stalking around the space, chanting as smoked crept around the floor to the audience's feet. Needless to say, I was pleased.One of the truly resilient things about Macbeth is the way in which these witches can be interpreted in countless ways. Here, director Aaron George made the witches not only accountable for a lot of the tragedy's tumult, but actually present with whispers and low chants in almost every scene, which I cannot sing praise for enough.
There were, however, some aspects that I really could have done without. The porter who shows up at Macbeth's home in the middle of the night is supposed to be an ominous, foreshadowing figure. Instead, it was as if this character had taken it upon himself to inject some comedy into the tragedy and treated it like a stand-up act. To call irritating the breaking of my suspension of disbelief by making jokes about pina colodas in a play about treason and murder set in medieval Scotland would be putting it lightly.
Also, the child playing the son of Banquo left me cold. His lack of presence in scenes with the other great actors cast in this production became almost awkward to watch. On the other hand, Stephanie Von Roretz as Lady Macbeth and Alex Goldrich as Macbeth himself were fantastic as they pulled the audience along in their descent into madness.One of the highlights for me remains when Banquo's ghost, played by Mirek Metelski, comes to haunt Macbeth at their dinner table. Paired with quick lighting change and the live drums that serve as the soundtrack throughout, the cast and crew just nailed it. What makes this play truly worth going to see are moments like this when all the different elements of the production fall perfectly into place. It felt like they were truly successful in evoking what a play written over 400 years ago intended to.Although I accidentally said the word "Macbeth" within the theatre twice, no catastrophes occurred, no boulders fell onto actors, nothing exploded and nobody seemed to suffer any broken limbs. In fact, they managed to put on a haunting production of one of my favorite texts that I will be happy to call the first of many productions I will see.
This article was written by Caitlin Stall-Paquet and posted by the editor due to temporary technical problems.
Macbeth runs at Le Monument National until August 25th
Tickets are $25 or $20 for students