The Scottish Play by the Shotgun Players and Musings about Local Theater

Guest Theater Critic: Tom Virsik

Leah and I recently saw Shotgun Player’s Macbeth. We can recommend it — but not appropriate for children. Overtly carnal (but tasteful) in parts and LOTS of well-placed stage blood. Audible gasps from the audience at certain scenes of violence.

(Actor playing Macbeth: Craig Marker. Photo Credit: Jessica Palopoli
Source: Shotgun Players)

The leads are great, as is the one witch/weird sister. Director Mark Jackson changes a small part of the plot (but not the lines!) that works well in this version. It is not his best work, though, and a few of his signature techniques are, in my opinion, overused. (And I suspect Jackson recycled a throbbing soundtrack used for a party scene from his American $uicide production). Very stylish and hip throughout and thoroughly understandable. You will remember this production of Macbeth and never confuse it with another. Macbeth has been extended through February 1, 2009.

Leah and I also saw a special one-night performance of Beowulf — a sort of rock opera “song play” based on the epic poem. We first saw it during its premiere run in Berkeley some months back. it is now headed to New York City. I noticed that among its cast is an actor I had originally seen in a Woman’s Will production a few years back. (I need to disclose that I recently was invited to and am presently a member of the Board of Directors of Woman’s Will). This same actor I next came across in a leading role in a different local company after. Now the actor is headed to NYC! If you are in NYC in April, check it out!

I am a strong proponent of local theater for a variety of reasons. The above tale is an example of one reason — being a part of something bigger. I — with many others — played a small part by reaching into my wallet for tickets and donations to keep local theater companies alive and prospering. That support translates into seeing those companies, the actors, the other professionals, excel and create work that is (in my opinion) beyond mere entertainment. One need only look at the titles of what is playing at small theater companies in the Bay Area to realize that political, ideological, and social themes are being debated and explored on stages almost nightly. Macbeth is, after all, a tale of an unquenchable thirst for power and no fewer than three small companies staged three very different versions of Macbeth within the last year. Coincidence or a thoughtful product of the political climate?

I am aware that especially in this economic climate, the arts in general are facing challenges. I know local theater in the Bay Area is under the gun, including the one organization of which I have personal knowledge, Woman’s Will. I encourage you to go see a show at your local theater. Volunteer, make a donation if you can. If the small theater companies perish for lack of support, we will have only ourselves to blame.

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