Emily Post Advises Macbeth, Brought To You By Dial Soap

trashlogo“Trash Macbeth” is a Shakespeare mash up you’ve got to see to believe. ERA (Equally Represented Arts) has dropped Emily Post into the middle of the Macbeth dinner scene (where audience members become guests) and then pause every now and then for a 50’s-style commercial. “Trash” becomes significant in every sense of that word as others trash Macbeth, this company trashes conventional ideas of Shakespeare’s tragedy, trash is left all around the theatre so that members of the cast bring out brooms to sweep it up after those same cast members have trashed the set. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have at a Shakespearean tragedy.

Audience participation (non-threatening) becomes apparent as you’re handed a script as you enter with your “lines.” As it turns out, everyone has the same script and it’s a short, group reading rather than an individual sweaty-palms “audition.”You’re also given a glass of some sort to put your drink in- whether purchased at the bar or some wine that’s on the table where you’re seated. You’re also greeted and “chatted up” by members of the cast in one of their characters as you’re led to your assigned seat at the table or at the overflow “groundlings” section of the audience.

trash-tableThe delightful Ellie Schwetye is Emily Post who stops proceedings every now and then- sometimes with a little bell- to advise us or the cast on proper dinner etiquette. She also doubles as one of the three witches who have a lot more than eye of newt in their cauldron. A mix of charm, athleticism and bit of caustic is our Lady Macbeth, Rachel Tibbets. She is simply a wonder as she bounces from one end of the theatre to the other invoking wrath, becoming a witch or charmingly selling us household items. Rounding out the three witches and also as Lady Macduff is an effervescent Maggie Conroy. Some of the best scenes in a show loaded with stand out moments is the three ladies as household diva witches either selling us products like Dial Soap (with hexachlorophene) or adding unusual ingredients to that cauldron.

The men are equally adept including Mitch Eagles as Macbeth who runs the gamut of joy, guilt and horror. He’s also one of the culprits of trashing the stage as, instead of blood running from his hands after the murder, he leaves a trail of shredded newspaper. Carl Overly Jr. shines as Macduff, strutting his acting chops while Nic Tayborn rounds out the cast as Banquo and other characters. Seated among the guests at the long, long table and playing on the main stage as well as the entire interior of the theatre, these actors get a real work out while bringing us a condensed yet incisive version of “Macbeth.” The dinner guests are even instructed to move their chairs away so that the final scene of the play can be played around and on top of the table. Actors are jumping on the table, using it for dramatic emphasis and trashing it as quickly as the other actors are clearing the complete dinner settings and, of course, the wine glasses.

trash-ladiesERA Artistic Director, director of and creator of “Trash Macbeth,” Lucy Cashion has brought reckless abandon to Shakespeare’s tragedy and, for those of us who have seen this play many, many times, it was a welcome, new interpretation. It’s like theatre in the round where the audience is actually in the round with the actors. Kristin Cassidy is responsible for the inventive scene design and Erik Kuhn designed the lights as well as serving as fight choreographer. Meredith Bounty’s costumes were a delight with formal clothing for the men and the 50’s looks  for the women. Rachel Tibbets even got to wear a top made from Brillo pad boxes. And the coronation outfits included a mix of newspapers and what may have been shower curtains. All in all, a very clever mix of kitsch in both style and substance.

You’re not supposed to have so much fun at a tragedy but with “Trash Macbeth,” you’ll have the time of your life. You’ll hear most of the famous Shakespeare dialogue- sometimes overlapping each other- and get an earful of 50’s nostalgia, parenting advice and other offbeat surprises. It is a bit long with close to two hours without intermission, but it does go by pretty fast. Catch “Trash Macbeth,” presented by ERA through May 7th. Visit http://www.eratheatre.org for tickets or more information.

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