Fleetwood Macbeth

“Fleetwood Mac,” by the Troubadour Theater Company
a kate west review
now playing at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood (800) 595-4849
February 19 – March 28, 2004

In Shakespearean time, theater was a bawdy, entertaining, interactive affair and audience members participated in their own raucous evening out. Shakespeare would have loved the Troubadour Theater Company. Troupe leader Matt Walker heads a company of professional improvisers, musicians and actors in a theater company that holds nothing sacred.

Their latest effort, “Fleetwood Macbeth,” stays true to their familiar style of wacky, irreverent fun. Set to the music of Fleetwood Mac, it is the classic story of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” From the beginning of the play, we know this will be a very different experience as some of the actors mingle with the audience before the show and the pull some “volunteers” on stage. Latecomers are greeted with a house-lights-up joyous song and the actors talk to us throughout the entire play.

Morgan Rustler as Macbeth and Matt Walker as Banquo take us through the entire story, jumping from traditional Shakespearean soliloquies to pop culture references such as mega singer Janet Jackson’s recent Super Bowl faux pas. Choreographer Michelle Anne Johnson dazzles us with fabulous numbers, including many acrobatic feats and Musical Director Andre P. Holmes accents the show with his rockin’ band. Meanwhile, the actors sing familiar Fleetwood Mac hits such as “Don’t Stop.” Lisa Valenzuela is an especially strong singer as Lady Macbeth and the crew of witches, led by Beth Kennedy as Hectate, are a delightful chorus of talented singers and dancers. Matt Walker’s direction is tightly controlled, yet still allows for improv and nice rapport with the audience. Costume Designer Sharon McCunigle creates a combination of modern and olden Scottish wear and most of the actors sport crazy huge rubber feet.

For those who can’t remember their high school lit class, “Macbeth” is inspired by the witches and his wife to murder King Duncan (Travis Clark) and take his place. Violence begets violence and he murders his friend Banquo to prevent his rise to the throne and then slaughter the entire family of his rival Macduff (portrayed East Los Angeles “homie” style by Guillermo D. Robles). He is ultimately and justly defeated by Macduff and heir to the throne, Prince Malcolm (deliciously foppishly played by Guilford Adams). Lady Macbeth dies and Macbeth himself is killed, all of his blood lust having left him with nothing but anguish and disturbing hallucinations.

The dramatic moments in this production, especially Macbeth’s speeches, could have been heightened in order to better contrast the troupe’s zaniness. As a whole however, it is a rewardingly juicy show, highlighting lowbrow humor and a finely toned ensemble. Tremendous fun and definitely recommended.

Macbeth (Folger Shakespeare Library)

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