By Francesca Miller, Staff Writer
Considered one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, “Macbeth” is the tale of a man who with the help of his wife takes matters of fate into his own hands in the quest for power.
After hearing a prophecy made by three witches telling him that he will one day be king, Macbeth is persuaded by his wife, Lady Macbeth, to summon the courage to kill the current king in order to validate the prophecy.
Macbeth is a complex character because, although he eventually commits the murder, it takes a tremendous mental toll on him and his wife. The second half of the play revolves entirely around the mental deterioration of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and their quest to keep their crime a secret while fighting madness.
The Hilltop players did a tremendous job bringing these characters of the Scottish play to life.
Derek Park and Renee Zelinski both did a fantastic job in portraying the Macbeth couple. Park skillfully demonstrated Macbeth’s initial hesitance to murder and then spiral into a character completely consumed with power, insanity, and cruelty. The audience could feel Macbeth’s conflicted manner when Park spoke Macbeth’s famous soliloquies.
They could see his guilt after murdering King Duncan, and they could feel his madness as he regretted his heinous actions.
Park also did a great job at making the audiences sympathize with Macbeth’s character. Yes, Macbeth is a murder, but he is a man driven mad by his crime. One moment the audience feels sorry for Macbeth as he wanders around the castle in a sleepless state, and the next the audience hates him as he orders the assassination of Banquo and the Macduff family.
Park could not have done a better job at portraying all of these emotions in one character. He made Macbeth as realistic and relatable as any other man. Besides the fantastic job done by Park, his costar Zelinski was equally as wonderful as Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s cruelest female characters, but she intrigues the audience by the sheer power she seems to hold over her husband.
Zelinski was everything the audience wants to see in Lady Macbeth. She was cruel, cunning, and frightening. The most impressive part of Zelinski’s performance was in Act Five as Lady Macbeth wandered around the stage in a fit of madness, desperately trying to wash the blood of the murders from her hands. She held the audience captivated, and almost made them feel a little sympathy for the woman who earlier in the play berated her husband calling him a coward because he could not bring himself to murder.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were not the only strong actors in the play. The cast in general was very good. Other notable performances were Jaccob Trifonoff as Banquo and Dave Zaneski as Macduff. In addition, Meaghan Macy offered the audience some comic relief with her quick and witty remarks with her character Seyton. With all of the death and madness on the stage, Macy’s quick lines added to the enjoyment of the overall experience.
Director John Hennen was correct in saying that the theater could not do a play like Macbeth without a talented cast. They spoke clearly, and made the Elizabethan language easy for the audience to comprehend. Shakespeare’s lines are not easy to perform. The cast delivered them with poise, and they made them relatable to a modern day audience.
Besides the acting, the technical aspects of Macbeth were well done. The play began with an ominous smoke filling the stage. The smoke acted as a foreshadowing for the dark events that shaped the actions of the play.
Another technical aspect I particularly enjoyed was the presence of at least one of the witches on stage during dark moments in the play because they are so iconic to Macbeth. As the witches sat under one of the three arches, the audience got the feeling as though they were watching in order to see their dark predictions come true. It was a great framing device, and it reminded the audience how essential they are to the plot.
Lastly, the sword fights were well done. Hearing real metal clash on stage added a realistic and exciting element. The actors who handled the real swords did a great job in portraying a heated battle without slicing each other’s arms off. The audience definitely enjoyed it.
John Hennen should be proud of his entire cast. Macbeth was an enjoyable experience to watch, and it showed the West Liberty community the sheer talent of the actors, stage crew, and directors on West Liberty’s campus.