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By Gadi Dechter | Posted 6/22/2005

At Area 405 June 25

By William Shakespeare

The Rude Mechanicals are an amateur Shakespeare company from Laurel self-described as “wildly inventive and original”—though the only apparent innovation in their Macbeth is a sword-for-pistol substitution that makes Act V’s anti-hero’s dispatch of Siward happily efficient. By this point, we’ve been squirming in our seats for more than three hours, so anything to “beguile the time,” as Lady M says earlier, is welcome, however obvious. The script doth not explain the firearm’s reversion to sword in Macbeth’s final duel with MacDuff, but we weren’t complaining, since big Mac’s impending slaughter signaled the blessed end to this famously cursed play. Only one more interpretive dance “choreographed” to the whooshy World of Warcraft soundtrack to suffer through.

Director Jeffrey Hersh’s aesthetic appears influenced by Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, a slashed-rags look that actually works pretty well for the Weird Sisters, but less so for the landed gentry in the cast of characters (oh, sorry, dramatis personae, as per the program). Why is Lady Macbeth done up as Cyndi Lauper? Would that we had, while stuck there, a script to thumb through for clues. Or a magazine. Or the back of a shampoo bottle. We did spy one lady reading a paperback in the corner during the second half. Lucky bitch.

It’s not all bad. Anne Frates’ commanding and crisp rendition of King Duncan is a shot of intelligibility through a fog of muffled, mumbled verse, making her murder all the more immoral. And rarely has the comic relief of the drunken porter, whom J. Calvin Smith plays with brio and sympathy, been more welcome. Sadly, these are the only morsels of competence that the Rudes throw their long-suffering audience. Amy Rauch ululates her Lady Macbeth to the point of absurdity, and Theo Hadjimichael likewise exaggerates Macbeth’s creepiness, as if the only thing preventing the Thane of Cawdor from murdering his way to the throne is fear of getting caught rather than fear of his own evil. Hadjimichael also sounds in thrall to his own voice. He so overswoops Shakespeare’s iambs that half the time all you can make out is ta-dum, ta-dum, ta-dum.

Or maybe that’s just the sound of your heart, panicking that it’ll never end. But it does, as Macbeth himself promises in the first act: “Come what come may/ Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.” Still, if you’re related to one of these actors and you absolutely have to go, don’t make our mistake. Bring a book.

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