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KLCC Theater Review: Macbeth

Jenny Graham
Erica Sullivan and Kevin Kenerly in Macbeth

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, after years of crises, is back on track. Tim Bond, the highly esteemed new artistic director, has put together a full season of ten plays, four of them playing this spring.

A riveting production of Macbeth, shrewdly directed by Evren Odcikin, gives festival fans a reason to rejoice. The quality is first-rate in every way. Kevin Kenerly, during 28 seasons at the festival, has played many of Shakespeare’s main characters, including Macduff, but this is his first Macbeth.

Kenerly’s Macbeth is a man too easily influenced by others, instead of one who thinks for himself. After winning a battle against Norway, the generals, Macbeth and Banquo, encounter a trio of witches who tell them that Macbeth will become king of Scotland and many of Banquo’s descendants will later ascend to the throne.

Macbeth’s wife, played with ruthless force by Erica Sullivan, infuses him with ambition. At her urging Macbeth murders the king and seizes the crown. He regrets his action, and everything begins to go wrong. When he again consults the witches they now offer nothing but bad news. These frightful creatures, played by Kate Hurster, Amy Lizardo and Jenny Greenberry, are terrifying as they sing their predictions in shrieking dissonance.

Shakespeare reputedly wrote Macbeth to please King James, a Scotsman obsessed with black magic and witches. This production would certainly have pleased the king. The swordplay is brutal, and the actors perform gripping war dances and songs. Lights flash and drums thunder. The Scottish play strikes again.