A Bright New Bead on the Bard: MACBETH at Barnstormers

by Lisa Panzer

Andrea Ambs (Lady Macbeth) and Ethan Lipkin (Macbeth) in a scene from Barnstormers Theater's MACBETH.

Most of us are familiar with William Shakespeare’s tale of MACBETH whereupon traveling home after battling a rebellion through the murky Scottish moors Banquo (well played by Bob Toczek) and Macbeth (powerfully portrayed by Ethan Lipkin) and company are told by three eerie women (the wonderfully witchy, Julie Lacontora, Kathy Leech and Kathy McNamee) that Macbeth will become the Thane of Cawdor, then King of Scotland, but also that the heirs of Banquo will be kings. The first part of the prophesy comes to pass, but Lady Macbeth (passionately performed by Andrea Ambs) just can’t wait, and convinces her husband to murder the King and his guards. Soon after, Macbeth is made King of Scotland, but guilt plagues him, he suffers hallucinations and behaves in an increasingly erratic manner; more murders ensue. Be fair warned: This is not your textbook version of the play! Director John D’Alonzo has refreshed this play with a fine cast and a renewed perspective.

Watching this show was like being in a theatrical candyland as much of the theater’s space, levels and technical capability are utilized in an innovative manner which lends depth to the performance, and allows interaction with the audience. Sound was well chosen and executed (Peter Dramo), lighting (Bill McKinlay) was engaging. Even the scene changes are eerily lighted and sometimes dalliant. The sword fighting is smartly stylized (Mark Cairns, Randal Gustitis) and other action scenes sport overall excellence, such as the fall by John D’Alonzo, who also plays the Murderer with excellent Elizabethan flair, and Ed Miller’s hilarious physicality as the Porter. Costuming (Gail Wagner and the cast) is clever, including the use of plaids, which go well with the interpretive set design (John D’Alonzo, R. Bruce Warren).

Julie Lacontora (Witch), Ethan Lipkin (Macbeth), Kathy Leech (Witch) and Kathy McNamee (Witch) in MACBETH, running at Barnstormers Theater in Ridley Park, PA through May 20.

In addition to the strong performances previously mentioned, standout ensemble members include: Natesh Karna for his handsomely stoic portrayals, Ted Kogut in his speech and expressions, the plucky performance by Harry McKinlay, and the versatility of Kellianne Quirk (loved the stance and the sunglasses!). John Defilice delivers a somber portrayal of Malcolm, Gigi McGraw’s elocution and delivery as Ross are superb, Joe Quirk plays a good strong Macduff and Patrick O’Neill is stately and well spoken as King Duncan.

The audience expressed their appreciation in laughter and much applause for this refreshingly enjoyable interpretation of Shakespeare’s Scottish Play (perchance were there some that did limp?) Kudos to cast and crew for the breath of fresh air that is Barnstormers’ MACBETH!

by William Shakespeare
Directed by John D’Alonzo
Through May 20, 2012
The Barnstormers Theater
402 Tome St
Ridley Park, PA 19078

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