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Theater review— YSHS’s production of ‘Macbeth’ slays

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By Elliot Cromer
When I heard that our beloved Yellow Springs high-schoolers and middle-schoolers were taking on the legendary Shakespearean play, “Macbeth,” I was scared for a number of reasons. First, the subject matter of this play contains some pretty darn spooky stuff. Murders! Witches! G-g-g-ghosts!? All of these and more are in store in any production of “Macbeth.” Second, this is really heavy material. People betray each other in this play, they lie, they kill, they have dinner parties. This is stuff I have trouble imagining, let alone acting out! Could these teenagers really pull it off? Can these youth make a fellow believe in such radically treacherous actions onstage and make him/her gasp at staged violence, when our movies and TV shows get us so close to the gore? Are we being desensitized to human interactions beyond hope and slowly losing faith in ourselves and even mankind? Why is the sky blue?

I didn’t have answers to these questions. But you better believe I got off my sofa and headed to the Mills Lawn theater to find out. Lurking amidst parents and kids alike in the elementary hallways of my youth, I got my ticket, grabbed a program and sat down to an evening with the Bard.

I found myself captivated from the moment the lights went down. Three witches (played by the enchantresses Charlotte Walkey, Christina Burke and Reese Elam) cast a spell upon myself and those around me with cool and poised movements that set our collected nerves on edge. Wars and battles were deftly created with an incredibly large ensemble cast who threw themselves into their roles and onto each other’s blades safely with the help of Neil Massey and Rachel Stubbs who acted as fight choreographers and instructors. Movement and dance choreography from Ali Thomas gives a moving rhythym to many a scene. Duard Headley steps into and fills boldly the titular role of Macbeth with a nuanced and humanizing performance of a role that can easily become a one-sided monster. Greta Kremer commands the stage superbly as Lady Macbeth. Goodhearted Banquo is played with a uniquely endearing quality only Lucas Mulhall could portray. The exuberant king (Windon Mesure) and his sons Malcolm (Jonah Trillana) and Donalbain (Lucas Sansom) are skillfully brought to life onstage with fervor.

Sam Green shines with a refreshing energy as Lennox. Only Nicklas “Bear” Wright can be at once a towering power house in his role of MacDuff and also a gentle giant wrought with empathy and guilt for his country and people. Allison Bothwell proves a powerful Hecate. Effie Pelassis gives a quiet, calm and clear energy as the child of MacDuff, while Zoe Clark hops deftly from role to role as both Porter and Fleance. As precise in their onstage combat as in their solid supporting roles, we find Isabella Kraus, Ursula Kremer and Taysha Burch as Sergeant, Rosse and Angus, respectively. The shiftiest of assassins are portrayed by Ellery Bledsoe, Sayre Hudson and Windom Mesure. And a stern but captivating gentlewoman (Sierra Ward) gives information to a wise doctor (Isabella Kraus).

This is a huge cast. I want to spend a paragraph upon each of these delightful actors, but my words are limited by the confines of the paper you are reading. I demanded that the Yellow Springs News give me the entire front page to shout these well-deserved praises, but they said it would not be fair to the other articles! What isn’t fair is that there are only three incredible performances left of this show for you to see, dear reader. Heed me well. Go to Mills Lawn Elementary School this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 6 and 7, at 8 p.m. for a once-in-a-lifetime performance of “Macbeth,” and go again this Nov. 8 for the final 2 p.m. Sunday matinee which is equally fantastic but perhaps a bit more kid-friendly, as you can go outside into the light if it gets too spooktacular. Believe me, it gets spooktacular. Raw. Riveting.

And while I’ve touched upon the talented actors who strut boldly in the lights, I cannot fail to mention the technical skill involved in this piece of theater. Musicians, puppeteers, the many designers and managers of stage, the crews who run in the dark and create the illusions we fall in love with are ever-present in their fine craftsmanship within this production of The Scottish Play.

All of these aspects have been woven together by the director Lorrie Sparrow-Knapp. Hers is a job of such scope and size I shudder thinking of the long hours she must have spent guiding this large canvas of artists into a cohesive work of art. Get out of the house this weekend, folks. You just might fall into another world.

Elliot Cromer is 2011 YSHS graduate and thespian.


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