UNH’s Macbeth promises to thrill
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 16:02
Murder. Passion. Conspiracy. One of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies, “Macbeth”, was written in 1606, but its dark themes maintain their appeal today as well. On Oct. 3, the UNH Department of Theatre and Dance Department will unveil their unique take on the masterpiece. The story of “Macbeth” is set in Scotland, and follows the story of the title character and his struggle for power and, eventually, his sanity.
After being told by prophetic witches (the infamous “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble” trio) that he will one day be king of Scotland, and to please his manipulative and seductive wife, Macbeth murders Queen Duncan in order to steal the throne. Following his crime, the slaughter begins as he disposes of anyone and everyone who is suspicious or stands in his way, one by one. And, of course, no Shakespearean tragedy ends on a happy note.
One can expect the show to end unhappily, but director Deb Kinghorn and her well-cast troupe of actors present an unconventional version of the classic piece. Kinghorn chose to set the piece in post-apocalyptic times, adding another dimension of eerie to the piece. The set is spectacular, but unsettling and barren to match the thematic choice.
Gender roles are also challenged, though this seems to be a collaborative effort between Kinghorn and Shakespeare. Kinghorn’s contribution is the fact that the monarch, Duncan, traditionally written to be played by a man, is transformed into a female character, played by Kristen Henrick. Shakespeare’s contribution to the show (and the literary world) in terms of gender is the creation of Lady Macbeth, one of theatre’s strongest and most coveted female leads.
Danielle Barrett, a junior Theatre and History double major, plays the devious leading lady, and is well aware of the expectations for her performance.
“This is a character that everyone wants to play. It’s one of Shakespeare’s most iconic roles, and also one of the most challenging,” Barrett said.
Barrett follows in the footsteps of several famous actresses who have taken on the part, including Vivien Leigh and Judi Dench.
Senior Nick Iannotti also faces quite a daunting task in playing Macbeth, a role played in the past by screen and stage legends Laurence Olivier, Ian McKellen, Albert Finney, and Patrick Stewart, among others.
“This is probably the biggest role I’ve had since college started, and I’m extremely happy to be cast. Playing a villain is always fun,” Iannotti said.
The two leads are in perfect sync with one another on stage; the chemistry is perfect, and the “couple” commands the stage whenever present. A relationship between two characters that is built on lust, manipulation and a hunger for power is no easy thing to convey to the audience.
“We’ve had lots of rehearsals with just the two of us and Deb [Kinghorn],” Iannotti said. “We worked closely with our scenes, and I really think it’s coming along.”
Though the leading pair does shine, the rest of the cast comprises extremely talented individuals as well. Not once is anyone out of character or unconvincing in their role, and the actors somehow make the complicated and sometimes confusing script come alive in an understandable fashion.
Kinghorn is confident that the audience will be able to understand the show, and will include only a basic synopsis in her director’s notes in the program.
“I think it’s pretty clear. Pretty much everyone knows the play,” Kinghorn said.
UNH’s production of “Macbeth” runs from Oct. 3-7 in the Johnson Theatre.