Pittsburgh Classic Players’ Macbeth, at The Maker Theater, is a production stripped to its basics on a minimalist set. That makes the thrust stage a podium for some of Sheakespeare’s most immortal lines. And that’s just what director Johnny Adkins does best here, simply allowing the audience access to a solid delivery of some truly great pieces of text.
Performing a Shakespearean tragedy (even one edited, as this one is, for length) is no easy feat, but Brett Sullivan Santry takes on the lead role as the flawed thane with strength. He swaggers across the stage, delivering his words with a punch. This focus is particularly welcome when compared to some other passages in the show; the witches’ scenes, for instance, had me checking my program for David Lynch’s name in the credits. Neither did the rest of the audience seem to know what was going during such sequences.
With contemporary popular culture infused by such dramas of politics and power as Game of Thrones and House of Cards, it’s a lot of fun to go back and see where all this started. And in Macbeth, the back-stabbing is very real. As Adkins writes in the program, “In spite of the supernatural phenomenon …, what this play comes down to is the choices made by one man”— one man and his twisted relationship with power and glory. Again, this is where the production’s reliance on dialogue over staging is used to its best effect. Some of Shakespeare’s most insightful and profound words are spoken on that stage, including “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more.”
This is a small, low-key production, and has a local feel thanks to the the intimate venue. Shadyside’s out-of-the-way Maker Theater is modestly appointed, but in this there’s potential for something cozy and inviting, and the audience should enjoy a fun, no-nonsense production of this winter warmer.