Shakespeare can be hard to understand with its complicated language, so I was hesitant to see the production of Macbeth at Synetic Theater in Arlington, Virginia.
Having not read anything in advance of the production, I didn't know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. It was amazing. It is a cross between The Matrix, Blade Runner, The Crow, and Nine Inch Nails with a mix of ballet and martial arts.
Macbeth is part of Synetic Theater's The Silent Shakespeare Festival. Besides Macbeth being performed, the next two Shakespeare plays at Synetic Theater will be Othello, and then Romeo & Juliet.
No words are exchanged in this production. It is a full on physical, body language, music, and dance production. The use of lights, the eerie stage, the macabre costumes and great music contributed to a great show. The stage is tilted and looks like a dark dungeon.
The show is all about nonverbal communications and how power corrupts. It is fascinating to watch as we are so over stimulated with sounds, technology, the iPhone, etc. It is an escape into your eyes, primarily while having the music guide your eyes through the scenes. The non-stop action is mind-blowing. Especially cool is the running in place effect. For the ladies there is a fight scene where a very chiseled actor, Ben Cunis, playing Macduff, takes off his shirt and fights Macbeth for the throne.
The show opens up with a battle scene. Dead bodies lay on the stage and three goth witches ascend lithely and have the bodies rise up and descend into their evil cauldron. One of the witches, portrayed by Philip Fletcher, received a Helen Hayes Outstanding Supporting Actor Award for his portrayal of a witch in Macbeth previously.
Macbeth, played by Irakli Kavasdze, and his wife, played beautifully by Irina Tsikurishvili, are given a premonition of Macbeth becoming the next king by the witches. Macbeth and his wife become consumed with their desire for power. After that premonition it is nonstop bloodshed, violence, and betrayal.
After the show, there was a Q&A with the cast and director. It was continually stressed how the show has grown organically. The music is originally scored, with most of it done on a computer by Konstantine Lortkipanidze. The dancing, choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili, is quite beautiful, but remarkably most of the actors do not have classical training. The actors take their craft very seriously.
They consistently work on ways to improve the show even while the show is being shown to audiences. It took about six months to bring everything together with the music, choreography, costumes, and fight scenes.
The actors typically rehearse prior to the show's debut three to four hours a day. They train in ballet, improv, rap, dancing, etc. It is an intense training and one actress stated that some people cannot handle it and those that do... well she says laughing, "We are masochists."
Actor Ryan Sellers stated this about their work ethic, "You're either getting better or worse, but you are never just staying the same. We are always trying to get better." The shows' hard work has shown off with it winning five Helen Hayes Awards in its previous showing in 2007.
This was probably one of the best shows I've seen this year and it is highly recommended. From the pure talent, the uniqueness, artistry, and physicality of the show to its music, costumes, and lighting it is a full packaged wallop.
The show is 90 minutes long. It runs until October 2 at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St, Arlington, VA. For more information call 1-800-494-8487 or go online at www.synetictheater.org.
Photos courtesy of Synetic Theater