So, what do we all remember about Macbeth? From what I can recall, and granted, this is after a period of estrangement from the work dating back to middle school, the plot centers around a Scottish lord who decides to kill the king so that HE can become king, then he goes crazy with guilt, and everybody dies. King’s Players’ production of Mme. Macbeth at the Fringe this year follows Shakespeare’s famous play almost to a T. But in this show, the lord Macbeth wears a dress.
No, no, this wasn’t a Shakespearean drag show, although that would have been highly entertaining, but rather a fairly ordinary production of Macbeth, with the exception that all the male roles are played by women and all female roles are played by men. Intriguing, is it not?
One could imagine that the intricacies of the female persona woven into an already dark and tortured character would be nothing less than thrilling. While Kat Gadway gives an effortless and bewitching performance as Mme Macbeth, it wasn’t quite enough to carry the concept as a whole to fruition. Despite being women, and reading parts originally written for men, most characters did not reveal a significant feminine level, leaving this gender-bending rendition without much to set it apart.
… worth seeing.
With a cast of 12 crammed into Fringe’s small “Redrum” theater space, and all actors besides Macbeth and Maduff (played by Alexia Poe) playing more than one role, keeping characters straight was sometimes difficult, particularly for those of us who aren’t intimately familiar with the story. This is made more difficult by the hasty delivery of Shakespeare’s original script. While the actors’s unfaltering exchanges were impressive, they left little time for interpretation.
The show does however include several dynamic fight scenes choreographed by Danny Rovin and Mitch Irzinski as well as elaborate but appropriate costuming, designed by Elizabeth Reeves. Director Timothy R. King gives a captivating performance as Lady Macbeth/Weird Sister 3, showing us the true intention behind the gender swap. Accompanied by the remaining two Weird Sisters, fearlessly played by Rovin and Irzinski, the famous “double, double, toil and trouble” chant makes for an unbeatable and entertaining scene. To add to this was a hilarious performance from Aimee Snow as the drunken midnight porter, and seamless character transitions from Jacinda Bronaugh, who brought concentration and depth to each of her roles as King Duncan, Lennox, Siward and the doctor.
If you love Shakespeare, and are looking for inspiration to where to take his classic words in our modern day, this show is worth seeing. If you are less of a fan, well, at least make sure to read the cliff notes beforehand.
Running Time: 85 minutes.
Mme. Macbeth is running through July 28th and The Capital Fringe Festival’s Redrum Theater. For tickets, visit here.