If the first shows of the season are any indication of what playgoers can expect, this is going to be a great year of theater on Maui.
The MAPA production "Macbeth" is so rich it could warrant three separate reviews analyzing a different aspect of the Shakespearian classic.
First of all, kudos to David C. Johnston for even attempting to present "Macbeth," at such a professional level on such a small island. Johnston's vision is bold, action packed and terrifying.
The production opens in a battle royale with fearless stage combat and actors flying from every entrance flailing steel swords mere feet away from the front row of the audience. The clanking of steel and the impressive skill will surely have even the "I don't like Shakespeare," crowd on the edge of their seats.
Johnston's use of the witches (referred to as "the weird sisters" in the script), is also prominent from the opening moments. The performances of Kristi Scott, Hoku Pavao Jones, and Jett Batoon are one of the highlights of "Macbeth." The trio draws the audience in as mildly eerie at first, which later becomes dark and disturbing. By the second act, aided by the performance of their coven leader Hecate (Sharleen Lagattuta), the recurring appearances become as unsettling as a bloodcurdling horror film.
Macbeth (Will Makozak) encounters the sisters while returning home from battle. They foretell he and his father Banquo (Daniel Vicars), that Macbeth will soon become King. Shortly thereafter the reigning King Duncan (Robert DeVinck) bestows the title Thane of Cawdor upon Macbeth.
Believing the prophesy may be true, Macbeth returns to his wife, Lady Macbeth (Beth Williams), and the two concoct a plan to murder King Duncan.
The scenes between Makozak and Williams are some of the finest theater one can see on Maui. Their chemistry is electric and their devotion to character as well as their unique choices is comparable to the professional quality scene work witnessed in the recent ProArts production of "Doubt" and Maui OnStage's "On Golden Pond" from last season. Williams' performance is hypnotic as she coaxes her husband into murder, oozing sex appeal. She is unnerving as she coolly calms Makozak while cleaning blood off of him, and finally uncomfortably funny as she eventually descends into madness. Makozak's eventual madness is also compelling to watch as, in madness, he becomes completely self assured and fearless, perhaps because he no longer has doubts or even cares if he lives or dies.
The cast of "Macbeth" is so deep in accomplished actors that there are almost too many to name. Brian Connelly's MacDuff, Ricky Jones' Malcolm, Jefferson Davis' Ross, Daniel Vicars' Banquo, Derek Nakagawa's Lennox all have memorable, transfixing moments in the two and a half hour play.
Two of my favorite show stealing moments however were Rick Case's hysterical portrayal of the Porter and Noel Overbay Smit's mesmerizing take on Lady MacDuff. Case has a more polished delivery with Shakespearian language and it shows. This ability makes a Shakespearian translation unnecessary during his monologue.
Smit's little scene playing a doting mother, first lightly scolding her fresh-mouthed child (Wyatt DeShong), then utter despair in witnessing her child murdered in front of her is one of the most perfect scenes in the entire play.
Like all Maui plays, "Macbeth" is not perfect, but it is immediately apparent that this is a labor of love. Before the show even begins, it can be seen in Caro Walker's superb set and continuing throughout the show with the harmonizing sound cues designed by Johnston, Ricky Jones and Carolyn Wright. Shakespeare is not for everyone and "Macbeth" may be a bit disturbing to some, but as a community artistic endeavor it is worthy of high praise and admiration.
- Michael Pulliam
* MAPA's "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, directed by David C. Johnston continues through Nov. 11. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 seniors and students. For more information visit mauiacademy.org or call 244-8760.