November 20, 2014
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Gamm’s ‘Macbeth’ takes Shakespeare to a new level
Photo by Peter Goldberg
Tony Estrella as Macbeth and Jeanine Kane as Lady Macbeth.

Just when I thought I was “Shakespeared” out, Gamm Theatre comes up with a production of “Macbeth” that would surely have made the Bard proud.

Magnificently directed by Fred Sullivan Jr., the timeless story of the quest for power is told in a powerful, in-your-face way that leaves the audience breathless.

We’ve seen Tony Estrella and Jeanine Kane together before, and there is no better acting duo in the state. They surpass all previous performances with their gutsy, physical, emotional portrayals of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

While many find Shakespeare’s language hard to follow at times, Estrella (and the rest of the cast) bring it to life. Estrella’s “Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow” speech, one of my favorite soliloquies, is right on the mark, as is Kane’s agonizing “Out Damned Spot.”

Presented on a bare stage with only a wooden wheelbarrow as a prop, Sullivan gets your attention from the get-go and holds it until the brilliantly staged conclusion.

Of all the “Macbeths” I have seen – and I have seen some pretty bad ones – the staging of the witches’ two prophesies and Macbeth’s demise are as clever as it gets.

The program lists time and place as Scotland, a time of war. While the uniforms look like they came out of World War I, the time and place are universal.

Kane plays Lady Macbeth as one tough lady, driving her husband, and eventually herself, to despair and madness. When the famous line “What is done is done” is delivered, I thought of the equally familiar “It is what it is.”

The casting is superb, from the larger roles of Duncan, played by a swaggering Richard Donelly; the enraged actions of Macduff (Steve Kidd); the six different roles, all played brilliantly by Wendy Overly; Boston actor Jordan Ahnquist’s emotional portrayal of Malcolm; right down to the smaller roles of Ross by the talented fight master Norm Beauregard; and Ralph Stokes who doubles as the court doctor and one of the Thanes of Scotland.

If you carry thoughts of being bored or confused by Shakespeare’s tragedies, throw them away, for this is a Shakespeare that is exciting, accessible, and universal. There’s even a very funny moment to break the tension.

“Macbeth” is at the Gamm Theatre, 172 Exchange St., Pawtucket, through April 13. Tickets are $38 and $48. Call 723-4266 or go online at www.gammtheatre.org.


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