The bridges, lawns, and
concrete paths of Fort Tryon Park may not much resemble the moors, heaths, and woods of medieval Scotland, but don’t tell Gorilla Rep. The Downtown troupe, which has produced Shakespeare in a variety of parks for 10 years now, claims the environmental setting for its own with its production
of Macbeth. The company members not only seem
unfazed by the incidental bicyclists, birds, and babies,
they positively embrace the distractions, acknowledging them, even playing to them without breaking character.
Director Christopher Sanderson has crafted a
vigorous, vivacious production. On a vine-covered
stone bridge the weird sisters appear, and in a moment the audience runs down the road to hear the soldiers. Then it’s over to the tree where Macbeth meets the witches, and a quick dash for the lawn to listen in on Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy.
Of course, this Macbeth
suffers the faults that often plague outdoor theater.
The actors, particularly the supporting cast, play the text fast, broad, and loud, getting the gist of the plot across,
but trampling on nuances of character and language.
Yet several of the leads— Alex Roe as Macbeth, Patricia Kelley as his fiery lady, Matt Daniels as Banquo— find an appropriate balance between telling the story and conveying subtleties.
Deficits of technique
and style matter little, though, when set against surroundings as beautiful as Fort Tryon’s. The final scene, set on a
sloping hill ringed by trees, with fireflies flickering and
the Hudson rippling in the
distance, would be magical no matter what was said or how.