The “Scottish” Play at Rockwood Mansion Park is DSF Success!

by Ethel Guy

David Blatt and Alysson Good appear as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Delaware Shakespeare Festival's rendition of MACBETH, playing through July 31 in Wilmington, DE.

So much Shakespeare, so little time! It’s summer, and Shakespeare productions seem to be everywhere in the area, both indoors and out. Warm weather has become feast time for Bard lovers, and The Delaware Shakespeare Festival serves up a treat with its current production of MACBETH. Performed in the beautiful Rockwood Park with the majestic Rockwood Mansion for a backdrop we do indeed feel as if we are in the Scotland of Macbeth, Macduff, Malcolm, Banquo, and Duncan. Perhaps one of the most studied and analyzed of Shakespeare’s plays – my theater-going partner began reciting the opening lines as the play began – MACBETH tells the story and the fate of its title character (David Blatt) as he returns home victorious from battle. Flush with success on the battlefield he and his fellow conqueror Banquo (Adam Altman) encounter a mysterious trio of witches (Emily Cheney, Rob Hull, and Eleonore S. Thomas) who predict even greater glories; a kingship for Macbeth and a long line of kingly progeny for Banquo. Once Macbeth tells this prediction to Lady Macbeth (Allyson Good) she becomes determined to see that it comes true as soon as possible, even if it means murder; how convenient that the current king, Duncan (Patrick Reynolds) will soon visit Macbeth’s castle!

Lady Macbeth goads her husband into committing the act, setting in motion a trail of deception necessary to cover what he has done. This first murder is only the beginning. After all, Macbeth must make sure there were no witnesses to his deed. And what about the prediction that Banquo would be the father of a nation of kings? The madness has only begun, and madness can only lead to more madness. Yes, Macbeth is a play about jealousy, treachery, and underhandedness, but it is above all a play about the deep, cancerous guilt that grows out of those acts. We watch Macbeth and Lady Macbeth descend into escalating madness as the secrets known only to them haunt them and gradually destroy their sanity.

King Duncan’s son Malcolm (Allen Radway) flees to England when his father dies, and is followed by Macduff (Erik Mathew) who implores him to fight for his throne. The return of Malcolm and his army and the subsequent sword fight between Macduff and Macbeth is the culmination of justice for the murderous Macbeth, who is beheaded in the hand-to-hand combat.

Much credit must be given to fight choreographer David Mason for a skillfully staged combat between Macduff and Macbeth. Such work is never easy, and creating it to have such great impact in a performance venue where the audience is at a distance from the stage takes great energy and careful scripting.

Kudos go also to Rob Hull for his comic turn as the porter dragged from his sleep to admit the traveling legions. In the midst of heavy tragedy Shakespeare has given us a reminder that, after all, we are in the presence of a bustling household of ordinary activity, and Mr. Hull brings much needed levity to the moment.

And the language! Oh, the language! The groundlings who entertain the audience as they assemble remind us that Shakespeare was written to be heard. The entire cast is to be commended for their ability to internalize the rhythms and cadences of the writing so that we are able to grasp the meaning and wrap ourselves up in the story. What a joy to sit back and let the cast’s excellent rendition of the words wash over us, a concerto in language.

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Molly Cahill Govern
July 16 – 31, 2010
Delaware Shakespeare Festival
Rockwood Mansion Park
610 Shipley Road
Wilmington, DE

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