How to review a Shakespeare play…how indeed.
To attempt a play with as stoic a role in our collective theatrical repertoire as Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is something akin to wildly ambitious. But to do so with a minimal budget, young, fresh actors and no stage…literally…no stage and no building…could be considered slightly insane. But it is perhaps this kinship to insanity that inspired the good people at Dean Productions to take this ‘crazy’ ride with this truly iconic tale and to set it all in an actual insane asylum to boot, and oh yes, to make it funny.
Stay with me…it gets even better.
The small, yet perfectly formed cast rotate the roles. Falling into and out of cleverly contrived stupors, (when you see the play you will understand) they double and triple up the many parts of this play. This should be confusing, but somehow just isn’t. In fact, I think it adds something to the characters and the language of the play somehow, keeping us on our toes so to speak. The set itself, and the wide-open stage on the lawn of the Brand Library in Brand Park, Glendale, is simple and incredibly effective. Under the trees and with minimal furnishings and lighting it’s as if the inmates of some otherworldly madhouse are performing for our pleasure, with their hospital gowns flowing and their childlike adaptation of whatever is to hand for swords and thrones and crowns and tombs. It’s “Where The Wild Things Are” meets "Peter Pan" and the wild rumpus turns jealously to murder and guilt to madness and Shakespeare’s words to beautifully, truthfully wrought performances and bewitching, unexpectedly heartbreaking moments.
We all know the tragic tale and these brave young actors frolic and tumble and play with its somber, bloody, manic unravelling. Their inventive and often hilarious take on this so familiar language is, at times, a revelation. I was lucky enough to see their “39 Steps” last year in the same park, and it was equally excellent. This production company is clearly very comfortable with theatre that challenges the audience as much as it beguiles it and for that, we should all be eternally grateful.
LaMont Hendrix (seated), Noah Laufe
Each actor plays their roles with total commitment and fabulously inventive style.
I won’t single out anyone in particular, they are all just as marvelous as each other and all so unique in their approaches to this truly brilliant adaptation that it seems unnecessary to do so. Suffice it to say, they are all individually impeccable and, as a company of actors, outstanding.
How can Macbeth be funny you might understandably ask? Well I’m not quite sure I have an answer for you, but I can tell you that this Macbeth, this ‘Comic Tragedy’ is both poignant and human and creative and really, really funny.
I highly recommend “The Comic Tragedy of Macbeth.” Bring a picnic, some cushions or a chair and watch Shakespeare the way it was meant to be seen…in the cool night air, with impassioned actors supported by an exceptional production and surrounded by a grateful, attentive and enraptured audience.
Lauren Henning (foreground); rear, l. to r.: Marcos Ruiz, Madeline Goshorn, Noah Laufer
It’s a very short run, so get a move on and go and see this brilliant show!!!
It’s worth mentioning that the play is entirely free, but this lovely lot are actually working with youth affected by cancer. “Dean Productions is dedicated to enriching the lives of children affected by cancer through involvement in fresh, innovative, and exciting professional theatre experiences.” You can support their theatre company and in turn support their innovative program enriching the lives of and improve the length and quality of life for children with cancer.
There is also a wonderful pre-show written by the children they are currently working with…and it’s hilarious!!
The Dean Productions Theatre Company presents - The Comic Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
Running from October 6th-21st, 2017
On lawn of the Brand Library, 1601 W Mountain Street, Glendale, CA 91201
Macbeth - LaMont Hendrix
Lady Macbeth - Lauren Henning
Banquo/MacDuff - Noah Läufer
Witch 1 - Madeline Goshorn
Witch 2 - Caitlin Stoodley
Witch 3 - Marco Ruiz
Director - Rebecca Lynne
Tech Director - Pomai Nakoa
Costume Designer - Dean Grosbard
Lighting Designer - Joshua Winkler
Stage Manager - Jeremy Leung
Assistant Stage Manager - Sam Pino
House Manager - Madison Strasser
Publicist - Philip Sokoloff
Artistic Director - Rebecca Lynne
Managing Director - Madison Strasser
Youth Program Director - Meredith Gibbs
Social Media Manager - Flannery Maney
Technical Director - Whitney Donald
Director of Development - Heidi Garcia