Macbeth doth Trump
By Byron Toben
We review Raise The Stakes’ wonderful version of Macbeth below, but cannot help to first mention its relevance to the present US Republican contest.
Donald Trump, (the candidate with a Scottish given name and Norwegian ancestry) was a persistent “Truther” in claiming that President Obama was not eligible to be president since the US constitution requires that the prez be a “natural born” US citizen. He suspected birth in Kenya despite Obama birth certificates from Hawaii. Trump rival Senator Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta to a US mother and is a US citizen by devolution from her, but Trump claims that the “natural” adjective requires that the place of birth be within the 50 states. However, this geographical requirement is rejected by most legal scholars.
What does all this have to do with Macbeth? Remember that the three witches prophesized that Macbeth should never yield to “one of woman born” but was finally vanquished by Macduff who was “from his mother’s womb untimely ripped”. Does that resonate or what? “Words, words, words…” was Hamlet’s comment in another play by the author of Macbeth.
While Montreal English theatre is blessed with two great professional houses, the Segal Centre and the Centaur, there are various established independent groups producing fine work: Persephone Productions, of course, Tableau D’Hôte and Infiniteatre. Of relatively recent groups, I am especially fond of LeNouveau International, Brave New Productions, Chocolate Moose and as here, Raise The Stakes. RTS, now “in residence” at the Theatre Ste-Catherine, has produced or co-produced ten shows since its formation in 2012, ranging from Shakespeare to Shepard, varying from Ionesco to Williams.
Its Macbeth features 21 talented young actors, many grads from Dawson, as well as three musicians, all jammed into the intimate 80-seat venue. The action begins with an impressive tableau vivant as out-manned forces under King Duncan of Scotland (Vinnie Dow) defeat invading Norway, largely due to the heroics of Macbeth. RTS Co-founder Anton Golikov is solidly persuasive as Macbeth, breaking the fourth wall, playing close and personal with the audience. He is well balanced by Concordia grad Allie Shapiro as the designing Lady Macbeth.
RTS Co-founder Anton Golikov is solidly persuasive as Macbeth, breaking the fourth wall, playing close and personal with the audience.
The gruff Macduff is incarnated by Maxime Paradis, who has a terrific sword battle. Rob Brown as Banquo, one time comrade in arm of Macbeth, brings a solid subtle presence. The other cast members, portray various thanes, warriors, servants, porters, and doctors with nary a weak link. The three weird sisters, Maxine Segalwitz, Adalia Claire and Skyler Clark bring the requisite eeriness to their heath as cauldrons boil and bubble. Eye of Newt, anyone?
Director Matt Enos ensures that all flows evenly as Birnam Wood advances to the inevitable conclusion.
Macbeth continues at the Theatre Ste-Catherine until February 7.
Tickets: 514 284-3939 and theatresaintecatherine.com
Images: Jean-Michael Seminaro
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.