Theater archives

Damped Spot


It drizzled, on and off, during the first press performance of the Shakespeare in the Park Macbeth, but most of us just muttered, “Let it come down,” and sat there damply, for which Liev Schreiber thanked us, graciously, in an impromptu curtain-call speech. The graciousness was in keeping with the rest of his performance, which was neither regally frightening in ambition nor emotionally gripping in the remorse that comes after, but like most of Moisés Kaufman’s production, well-spoken, straightforward, stolid, and—in this humid weather—more than a little damp. Kaufman made tiny, tentative, unexciting gestures toward updating—the Macbeths had a ragtime band at their banquets; the witches were helpful hipsters in army surplus suits, one of them (Lynn Cohen) doubling puckishly as the Porter—but most of it plodded damply by. Jennifer Ehle’s request to the gods to unsex her was roundly rejected; she was the most ladylike Lady Macbeth who ever sleepwalked. Sterling K. Brown was a convincing Macduff, and Jacob Fishel a reasonable Malcolm. Apart from a few cuts and verbal twiddlings, the text was there to be heard. But the damp approach merged with the damp atmosphere to put out any brief candles of Shakespearean excitement.

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