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William C. Altreuter
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Saturday, August 07, 2010

We caught up with Shakespeare In Delaware Park's production of Macbeth earlier in the week, an interesting take on the Scottish Play. On the theory that Buffalo has a lot more talented woman actors than roles for them to play, the producer decided to mount the play with an all woman cast. It pretty much works, although there are moments when it gives off an odd dyke-y vibe. I've always felt that one of the interesting things about the play is its take on how the sexes behave vs. how they are perceived, and some of that is lost as well. Lady Macbeth is the tough one in the relationship, and for all her talk of dashing out the brains of a baby and her cries of "unsex me here/
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full/Of direst cruelty!
" I don't think that Shakespeare meant for us to see her as an aberrant monster. Like Macbeth she is consumed with ambition; unlike Macbeth she is prepared to do whatever it takes. I suppose we are meant to contrast her with Lady Macduff, but in an all-woman cast Lady Macduff comes off as something of a lightweight. It is interesting that in this production Lady Macduff comes across as something of an ingenue.

Still, it is an intriguing approach to the play, and a lot more interesting than the usual, "I know, let's dress them up like Star Trek characters" variation. I'd like to see them try it again with a different play-- wouldn't it be interesting to do The Merchant of Venice this way? Maybe Shylock should be played by a man, to emphasize how alien he seems to the others.

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