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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

“Macbeth” Review: Sinister, Dark, Thought-Provoking

The cast after a fight scene. Macbeth, played by junior Cayetana Hamilton-Garcia, stands at the center of the stage, holding a sword. The three witches, played by junior Philip Miller, junior Elia Rigolini and freshman Chiara Venturi, from left to right, circle Macbeth. (Courtesy of Cheryl Tanski)

Please note this review contains spoilers.

I had never read nor seen William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” before the morning of March 14 when I attended the matinee of WIS’s upper school production of “Macbeth.” 

Upon entering the theater I noticed three things: Firstly, there were three separate seating areas, creating a roughly triangular stage in the center. Throughout the show, actors entered and exited scenes from three different parts of the stage. This concept created a more interactive experience. The second thing I noticed was the fog as I walked in. Upper School Counselor Sara Sonsalla said the fog looked like cotton candy, although it adopted a distinctly creepy quality as the play progressed. Thirdly, I noticed the candles. The show began when Lady Macbeth, played by junior Maddy Fine, lit three candles, whose eerie and foreboding aura immediately hooked the audience. 

With a running time of two hours, the show interspersed fight scenes with moving dialogue, where ultimately the eponymous protagonist, encouraged by her wife, kills the King of Scotland. Macbeth, played by junior Cayetana Hamilton-Garcia, then becomes the King of Scotland but is ultimately overthrown. WIS’s production was an abridged version of the original play, but I feel that the overall plot was still conveyed even due to its complexity.

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I loved many of the features in the production. For example, the fights were exciting and well-choreographed. Various actors were involved in the fight scenes at a time, each one having a specific role in the fight–and there were captivating sword duels. Knowing how much work goes into creating a fight scene, I thought they were well-executed. I’d also like to mention the tech crew, which synchronized the opening fight scene with lively Scottish music, which elevated the scene and made it feel like an action movie.

The set itself was innovative and engaging. In the center there was a T-shaped wooden stage, assembled by the cast in front of the audience after the opening scene, with different levels and the audience sat in a triangular arrangement surrounding it. I can only imagine how much work went into creating a stage with tunnels underneath, along with figuring out how to seamlessly incorporate them during the show. WIS productions usually have a great set, notably the 2018 production of “Shrek” in the middle school and last year’s upper school production of “Our Town,” but this set takes the cake.

From left to right, juniors Calder LeValley and Cayetana Hamilton-Garcia who played Banquo and Macbeth, respectively. Both actors brought their characters to life and showed their fears and motivations. (Courtesy of Cheryl Tanski)

However, the witches, played by junior Elia Rigolini, junior Philip Miller and freshman Chiara Venturi, were my favorite part of the show. Their costumes, acting and laughter brought their characters and the Shakespearean dialogue to life. Venturi’s mannerisms were creepy, perfectly matching the character.

Hamilton-Garcia and junior Calder LeValley played, respectively, Macbeth and Banquo, convincingly and engagingly. I thought the rest of the cast was equally convincing, but the Macduff family, played by junior Louis Schwinghammer, senior Naomi Breuer and freshman Mahina Diaz-Asper, specifically stood out because of the emotion they portrayed and the clear delivery of their lines. They, in particular, were able to humanize the Shakespearean characters and translate their motivations and fears from paper to the stage.

As for costumes, while they fit the characters perfectly, overall, I didn’t think the costumes created a coherent sense of time and place. That is a stylistic choice, but it was disorienting, especially with the Scottish music in the background.

Finally, a note on the dialogue. Shakespearean is inherently more difficult to understand than plain English, but the actors’ lack of enunciation made it all the more challenging to digest. I was able to piece together what happened from the acting and body language, but it was a shame to not be able to hear the dialogue clearly. Especially as someone who has never read or seen “Macbeth” previously, it was disappointing to not be able to fully experience it. So, for me, the real tragedy of “Macbeth” was not being able to understand all the dialogue. 

I do think that, overall, the cast, tech crew, and faculty put on an engaging and creative play.

In the words of Head of School Suzanna Jemsby, in an email sent to the cast, “[the] production was simply fantastic: from individual performances, to full-on combat scenes, to perfectly timed sound, to Caledonian-with-a-twist costumes.”

By Isabella Duchovny

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Isabella Duchovny
Isabella Duchovny, Managing Editor

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