Published Date Written by Harold WitheeA short introduction seems appropriate, so here it is. I have worked in theatre and film for 30 years. I began my career in the industry in Portland with Children's Theatre of Maine and a string of LaVerdiere's television commercials (who here is old enough to remember LaVerdiere's?) Many remember me in local Time Warner & Blue Cross, Blue Shield advertisements. While living in Boston I worked in more than 30 professional theatrical productions as a member of Actors' Equity Association. A member of SAG/AFTRA, I've worked on films including "In the Bedroom," "Finding Home" and "Empire Falls." Returning to Maine two years ago I worked as an actor with Freeport Shakespeare Festival and until recently was the general manager of Freeport Factory Stage.
My opinion will not always please but it is not my responsibility to be a production's publicist. My wish is to celebrate the vibrant theatre community of Greater Portland.
"Macbeth" happens to be my favorite Shakespeare play and I'm delighted Fenix Theatre Company's outside production of this classic is my first review for The Daily Sun. This is a stripped-down script which has cut the core storyline to create a fast paced, bouncy production that runs under 90 minutes. The program lacked a note from the director and offered no insight on time or place, though the production seemingly invoked an early 20th Century setting.
A dozen times my path has crossed this wonderful play and never have I witnessed such levity directed into the show; here the humor is milked and played with. Set against the horror of the events and the supernatural underpinnings, this decision worked surprisingly well creating whole new dynamics for lines I have heard many times before. Tragedy, human greed and ambition seemed to blindside the audience throughout the evening creating powerful moments such as the beautifully choreographed death of Banquo (Sally Wood).
Rob Cameron presents a boyish, playful Macbeth that never seems to fully understand the consequences of his actions until his fate is sealed and throat slit. This is not a cunning, plotting, maniacal character but rather a man ready to let life happen to him, pushed from behind by the real ambition, Lady Macbeth (Abigail Killeen). Killeen's Lady Macbeth swirls with kinetic energy and early on reveals an underlying fraying of her tenuous grasp on reality. My stand out scene is a distressed Lady M grabbing two daggers in one hand, hoisting her gown with the other while running frenziedly back to the murder chamber.
Costume decisions by Molly Bryant Roberts enhanced the visual connection with the audience. Crisp white clothing helped draw attention, focus and contrast to the natural setting of Deering Oaks Park and the actors audience interaction. Rain fell the evening I attended, creating mud and water throughout the staging area. Cameron uses the elements to accentuate the journey from virtuous hero to soulless shell. Disheveled, dirty and stained Macbeth's clothing and soul are one when his light is snuffed.
Vocal projection was an issue and many words were lost. All of the actors were straining to deliver their intoxicating lines as projection is a product of the belly not the throat. This is the fifth year of Fenix Theatre Company's Deering Oaks productions and it seems clear they have learned how to utilize the park to their advantage. This production was a joy to watch even as the rain fell and I look forward to seeing what next year will bring.
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