Macbeth – An Atlanta Theater Fans Review

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Macbeth at Atlanta's New American Shakespeare Tavern
Mary Russell and Andrew Houchins in Macbeth. Photo by Jeff Watkins

Double, Double Toil and Trouble

If you’re a fan of classical theater looking for something dark and tortured to add to your list of bewitching entertainment this October, then consider attending the New American Shakespeare Tavern for a performance of Macbeth.

Located on Peachtree Street in the heart of Atlanta, the Atlanta Shakespeare Company (ASC) offers one of the more unique theater experiences in the city. Walking into the room is like stepping into another time. It’s part tavern, part Elizabethan theater house. A British-Pub menu is available, and patrons are encouraged to purchase food and drinks and enjoy the atmosphere before the show.

The ASC uses a style of theater they’ve dubbed “Original Practice”. Rather than conforming to today’s popular trend of modernizing Shakespeare, the ASC keeps to the Elizabethan model and lets the Bard weave his own magic. Period costumes grace the stage and live sound effects are made by the actors themselves. There are no glitzy special effects, and the lighting feels natural. No microphones here, either. All is as Shakespeare would’ve seen his own plays performed.

For those unaccustomed to such raw theater, following the frantic pace of the Bard’s words can be a little tricky at first. But allow yourself to get lost in the story, and you’ll be in for a treat.

For Macbeth director Laura Cole takes a crisp and classical approach to this tale of greed and guilt. As the lights come up on the heath of Scotland, the appearance of the Weird sisters immediately sets the tone for the play. Kati Grace Morton, Dani Herd, and Kathryn Lawson shine as the prophetic witches who tell Macbeth that he is destined to be king. From that moment on, the wheels of selfish ambition and lust for power begin to turn in the life of the Thane of Glamis.

Andrew Houchins plays an easily swayed and then agonizingly tortured Macbeth who allows himself to be swept away in his destructive quest for the kingship. After murdering both the King of Scotland and then, later, his own best friend Banquo, Macbeth declares that “I am in blood stepp’d so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.”

As the body count rises and blood stains amass, everything spirals out of control for the Macbeths. Mary Russell’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth is emotionally captivating, and her vocal performance is one of the best in the cast.

Fight Captain Stephen Hanthorn adds excitement with some heated choreography, and there are many strong performances among the company: Notably Troy Willis as a very intense and engaging Macduff, Tiffany Porter as the well-spoken Ross, and Matt Nitchie as the honorable Banquo.

William Shakespeare’s popular tragedy is in good hands with the Atlanta Shakespeare Company and is sure to satisfy the classic theater-goer’s dark side.

Performances run from October 8 to 30. For tickets and additional information about this show or others in the season, visit http://shakespearetavern.com.

– Christi Whitney