Jovan King as Macbeth
Rave reviews for the "fresh and contemporary" Macbeth!
"a strong cast across the board"
"... a strong cast across the board...the performances are solid. There's a single thread of ruthlessness coiling through Jovan King's performance as Macbeth from the moment he enters. King builds patiently on this and maintains believability and a thin shred of sympathy...Lana Smithner's Lady Macbeth is the sexpot, then the manipulative shrew, then the madwoman, all on schedule and as expected. Smithner acts the hell out of each incarnation...
Jovan King as Macbeth and Lana Smithner as Lady Macbeth
"Engling casts the Amazonian Paige Fodor as Banquo, and Emily Nichelson does double duty as Fleance and one of the witches. Fodor plays especially well opposite King in the all-important first scene where Banquo's readiness to hear the witches' prophecy acts as an important moral barometer, and her performance is good throughout...Elsewhere in the cast, Krysal Mosley and Kasey O'Brien, together with Nichelson, are strong in all aspects of their performances as the witches. Arthur Moss is good as Duncan...Jeff Harris (MacDuff) and Brandon Johnson (Malcolm) play admirably opposite one another in their scene...As the porter, Kevin Grubb's performance is very broad indeed. It's an entertaining performance...Thinking back on the whole performance, there are so many individual moments of passion and imagination and intelligence..."
Kasey O'Brien, Emily Nichelson and Krystal Mosley as the Witches
"Their new production of Macbeth was excellent...Polarity's version was fresh and contemporary. Macbeth is a powerful experience when seen in live performance and I felt the company nailed the play's gripping, dark essence...I loved the opening scene of Macbeth when the witches ritualistically danced on stage in animal skin headdresses and costumes. It was eerie and creative at the same time. The lighting also throughout the show set produced a good effect through the show with reds, blues and yellows. Furthermore, every actor's costume was appropriate for the play's time period...I was entertained by the fact that the actors were a variety of ethnicities, heights, body types and reversed gender roles...The character of Banquo, Thane of Lachaber, and seen as a threat to Macbeth's taking the throne, was played by Paige Fodor, an actress of six foot four, was a towering contrast to Jovan King (Macbeth), whom I placed at around five foot ten..."
Paige Fodor as Banquo
"Fodor also played the role with assertive spunk and I really enjoyed watching her on stage...This version of Macbeth, I felt, was also a time to celebrate the strength, bravery, and celebration of women. A good example of this is when Lady Macduff (Kate Smith), wife of Lord Macduff, and her daughter (Wendy Walter), are murdered on Macbeth's orders. (Lady Macduff's murdered child is usually a boy). In this contemporary version of the play, Lady Macduff was very brave and tried to defend herself, fighting with her attackers... King's portrayal of Macbeth was a commanding, confident performance of a tyrannical ruler who becomes mad and power hungry...Lana Smithner as Lady Macbeth was also a strong performance...Smithner allowed the raging fire of Lady Macbeth to soar through her...Furthermore, King and Smithner had excellent chemistry onstage together as man and wife, king and queen, tyrant and tyrant's helper...I thoroughly enjoyed the acting of Kevin Grubb as the Porter. He provided some much-needed humor and laughs... His mannerisms and acting made me roll with laughter. The principals were also supported by a wonderful ensemble, some of them acting in multiple roles to the story on stage. Polarity's Macbeth was a delight to watch..."
Jeff Harris as Macduff and Kevin Grubb as the Porter
"Engling's direction of Macbeth takes the play further down the path of a supernatural ritual. The witches in this version have animal masks, incense, and dance around their caldron like witch doctors. They summon Macbeth to them, creating him as a vessel for all of our evil. For those familiar with the play, you will not recognize this beginning, as it is fabricated and the true start of the play does come until five minutes into the production. It is an admirable choice Engling has made, to try to connect this cursed play to a need for cathartic purging in our society. In many ways, he is bringing out the play's roots in Greek tragedy to the forefront...If you are a fan of Macbeth, Polarity Ensemble Theatre's production is worth seeing for it's different take on the darkness in the play."
Julian Stroop as Lennox, Art Moss as Duncan, Brandon Johnson as Malcolm, Brian Bradford as Donaldbain
"Lady Macbeth's madness is intensely captured"
"Director Richard Engling has re-imagined Macbeth in the Polarity production of the William Shakespeare classic currently playing at the Greenhouse Theater...This is Shakespeare's darkest tragedy and Engling has moved outside of tradition in creating a ritualistic theme that sets up Macbeth to be sacrificed for his evil deeds for the good of society. This is a bold step to take and much of it works very well.
"As the play begins, we see three witches dancing around a cauldron to the rhythmic beat of drums. In this production, the witches are more like spiritual medicine men, wearing animal skins, masks, and burning incense. They have lured Macbeth to them and they prophesize how he will become king of Scotland; slithering their way into his mind to empower his evil side. Macbeth becomes mad for power and embarks on his tragic journey. I liked this opening scene, it is unique, creative, and sets the tone for the rest of the production. The witches played by Krystal Mosley, Kasey O'Brien, and Emily Nichelsen, look the part (costumes by Delia Ridenour) and the rhythms (percussionist Hilary Signale) add a touch of the supernatural to the atmosphere. The set (Charles C. Palia Jr.) is simple and effective; I thought the pentacle on the stage floor was interesting, and the lighting (John Kelly and Sophie Blumberg) casts just the right shadows to keep the air of mystery.
Arthur Moss as King Duncan
"The play unfolds as Macbeth (played by Jovan King), becomes more addicted and hungers for power. He is still torn by what he must do but is pushed over the edge by Lady Macbeth (played by Lana Smithner), who herself is obsessed with the power of becoming queen. Together they step over the line, and once there, cannot return. There is a strong sense of dread and torment as the two attempt to escape suspicion and discovery, and Lady Macbeth's madness is intensely captured...
Lana Smithner as Lady Macbeth
"The production benefits from a versatile and talented cast including Arthur Moss as Duncan, Kate Smith as Lady McDuff, Jeff Harris as McDuff, Brandon Johnson as Malcom, and Paige Fodor as Banquo (another unique aspect of this production). The rest of the members; Jake Baker, Brian Bradford, Andrew R. Canada, Nick Freed, Kevin Grubb, Orion Lay-Sleeper, Julian Stroop, Wendy Walter, and Helen Young provide strong support. I liked Director Engling's use of the witches as participants in many of the scenes, holding masks in front of their faces. He also keeps the play moving along, while maintaining the intensity as the plot builds.
"Shakespeare has been produced in many different ways and the Polarity Ensemble production is certainly contemporary, unique, and entertaining. The cast is energetic and works hard to deliver a worthwhile evening of theater."
"Polarity Ensemble Theatre's Macbeth has a lot of strong elements...such as having the witches double as servants and other minor characters (often just using masks held in front of their faces). This, coupled with a live percussion score, contribute to the supernatural feel of the play in an appropriate way. (Kudos to music director Nick Freed, sound designer Andrew Dallas, and the actors who double as percussionists.)...Charles C. Palia, Jr.'s set and Delia Ridenour's costumes are beautiful, as is the terrifying makeup design for Banquo's ghost. Director Engling keeps up the pace without rushing, and nicely builds suspense.
Kasey O'Brien as Second Witch
"The acting is strong too... the witches (Krystal Mosley, Emily Nichelson and Kasey O'Brien) are beautiful and deadly forces of nature, acting and dancing with aplomb...Jovan King's Macbeth...is charismatic and compelling as the Scottish king should be. Lana Smithner (who closely resembles Idina Menzel) is a stunning Lady Macbeth, successfully avoiding cliché and presenting a snakelike grace – until the character's very believable mental breakdown. Arthur Moss is a lovely, grandfatherly Duncan, and – though she only has one scene – Kate Smith is a fierce and memorable Lady MacDuff (ditto young Wendy Walter as her daughter). I'm still not sure why Banquo is played by a woman, but Paige Fodor's imposing presence and impeccable delivery convinced me to just go with it...There's a lot to like about Macbeth: the wonderful design and performances make for an entertaining evening."
Kate Smith as Lady Macduff