"Macbeth," which opened the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival on Thursday night, is perhaps the Bard's darkest play. It is filled with lines which have become common usage, including, "All the world's a stage ... full of sound and fury and signifying nothing."
Witches and ghosts appear ("Double, double toil and trouble"), a king is murdered by his host and hostess (Macbeth and Lady Macbeth) and the king's slaying is avenged by his son.
The festival's "Macbeth," which alternates with "The Comedy of Errors," receives a lusty, full-strength performance by the Foothill Theatre Company. No punches are pulled, this is theater at its most strident. When Macduff is told of the murder of his wife and sons, he shouts "All of them? All my pretty ones gone?" It's a powerful moment, but with the loud emphasis the line loses the poignancy that makes the next lines, "I'll think on't tomorrow" less meaningful.
Never mind that carping. This is a fine production, presented by fine actors at the top of their game. Macbeth is played by Philip Charles Sneed, who give the thane more than just a murderer's doubts. His signature speech, "All the world's a stage," is delivered gently, facing the audience alone, sadly perhaps. You believe that this man is capable of murder.
His wife, Lady Macbeth (incidentally, Macbeth is a Christian name, not a patronymic so no capital B) is Rebecca Dines, whose chiseled features seem appropriate for the murderously minded lady. Her final scene, where the famous "Out, out, damned spot" line comes, is a moment of quiet pathos in an otherwise loud and challenging performance. You understand that this woman is fully capable of urging her husband to murder.
Together, the Macbeths keep the play at a high level.
As is common with the Foothill players, there isn't a weak actor in the cast. The three witches, Karyn Casl, Carolyn Howarth and Kate Mines, are satisfyingly weird (their costumes are imaginative, with the touch of a woman's mask at the back of the head, on one of them eerily right).
King Duncan (Timothy Hyland), the Macbeths' victim, is stately and kingly; Malcolm (Justin Martingale) the king's rightful heir, is enigmatic; and Banquo (Gary Alan Wright) is sufficiently slippery. Macduff (Mat K. Miller) is valiantly correct.
Director Lynee Collins comments, "We live in a world so seemingly different from 11th-century Scotland, yet the atrocities we witness in the play are too familiar. And the questions it raises wait to be answered."
n Contact Sam Bauman at email@example.com or 881-1236.
If you go
What: Shakespeare's "Macbeth," alternating with "The Comedy of Errors," by the Foothill Theatre Company
Where: The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor State Park, Highway 28
When: Through Aug. 19, early admission at 5:30 p.m., general admission at 6, curtain at 7:30
TICKETS: $14 to $67, call 74-SHOWS or go to LakeTahoeShakes peare.com