Blood of Macbeth Is Shakespeare ‘Light’ – Done Right!
By Lorenzo Marchessi
Once again small theatre triumphs big! Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group in North Hollywood off Lankershim Blvd. has an immensely fresh (and shortened) production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth!
The script for this stage production was trimmed down the basics of all the happenings that make Macbeth the somewhat sexually charge and ‘bloody’ theatrical experience the original truly is! Full of humor, wit, mystique and MANY twisted sisters who take on story points to move the drama along to condense this production down to its one hour length! Very well done!
Now what makes the production so fresh and original…were some really amazing performances. Starting with Macbeth himself played by Michael Blomgren – he took a very well-known archetype and made it fun, fresh and enticing to watch. He does crazy very well…and makes it funny and ironic in all the murders he partakes in. What I also noticed is that he brought the rest of the cast a step higher in their performances by setting his own ‘energy bar’ very high. (Another sign of a good performance!)
My next outstanding and mesmerizing performances came from one of the Twisted Sisters, played by Chelsea Kurtz. Her performance art of dance and seduction – with her Asian influenced ‘Sister’ – gave the scenes with her and Blomgren exciting humor, energy and flare – especially with her duel performance as The Murderer as well.
Duncan played by Amir Khalighi gave an intense performance and seemed to make a broad stroke in his passion for his character…while the calmer yet colorful performance of The Captain was played humorously by Roger Weiss.
Steve Madar as Macduff and Willy Romano-Pugh as Banquo both gave an even level performance with their own unique speeches that greatly supported Blomgren’s performance as Macbeth. Another quirky little characterization was nicely done by the helmet tapping performance of David Wyn Harris as Fleance.
Also there is some very enchanting singing and chanting done by the rest of the Twisted Sisters played by Helene Udy, Jacqueline Baxter, Lizzie Bassett, Lauren Velasco, Ren Harris and Beth Kurtz. They move the story forward, explain the gaps and tell you the scoop for all the text of the original play that was removed.
I can see why director Josh T. Ryan choose the theme of an ‘institutional style’ scrubs-style costuming and Braveheart style performance on-stage make-up application, along with the Twisted Sister looking their Burlesque-like best – to give this shorted script a more interesting depth and yes – flare! Oh, and watch the upper right at the top of the theatre at the beginning on the production….you’ll see a ‘robotic’ – ‘Sector 7’ – Vendetta-like looking narrator to open the play – clever! Shakespeare done short and sweet!