The Everyday Inferno Theatre Company’s production of Something Wicked aims at a deeper exploration of Lady Macbeth, the protagonist’s wife in William Shakespeare’s tragedy. In the original play, Macbeth encounters three witches, the Weird Sisters, as he returns from battle. The witches reveal that he will become the King of Scotland. Therefore, Lady Macbeth persuades her husband to kill the king.
Macbeth’s acts are not only moved by his ambition, but also by Lady Macbeth’s insistence that he must fulfill the witches’ prophecies. When the protagonist hesitates, Lady Macbeth persuades him to do the deed. Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s greatest villains. She is cunning, ambitious, and will stop at nothing to reach her goals. Yet she is not simply a villainous caricature since her insanity and final suicide demonstrate the effects of a guilty conscience. Something Wicked, which was directed and adapted by Anaïs Koivisto, explores the character’s humanity, an aspect that is overlooked in Macbeth.
The action begins right after Lady Macbeth’s death. The Weird Sisters now become her guides through a purgatory-like space in which she will confront her deeds and their consequences. Therefore, Something Wicked is structured around key scenes from the original play. Lady Macbeth’s new outsider perspective will force her to rediscover the horror of her actions and reveal the real motor behind her decisions and profound love for her husband. It may seem that this revelation places Lady Macbeth in the conventional female role of dutiful wife, yet the performance dissipates this notion by having three different women playing the role. The multiple Lady Macbeths affirm the complex nature of the character and challenge the exclusive focus on her villainy. Kathryn Connors plays the dead Lady Macbeth with a subtle vulnerability as she observes the action like a ghost. Ali Stoner performs the Lady Macbeth who mercilessly pushes her husband to kill the king. Finally, Lila Newman plays both Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff, who is killed along with her son under Macbeth’s orders, suggesting a connection between the murderous temptress and the motherly victim. Koivisto avoids trapping Lady Macbeth into only one role, thereby underscoring the multiple dimensions that define her humanity. In the play, Macbeth is also superbly performed by Zachary Libresco, Samuel Platizky and Jay William Thomas, who also act additional key characters from the play, but this effect is not as forceful as with Lady Macbeth.
The cast successfully fills the performance space with songs, movement and dance to the point where scenery would only hinder their work. The witches, played by Laura Epperson, Sam Bruce and Paul Gregg, are omnipresent and they serve as perfect guides to the ghostly Lady Macbeth. These spooky characters are a welcomed expansion on the original since they only appear twice in Macbeth, even though their prophecies are central to the story.
Nevertheless, the play itself suffers from moments that lessen the impact of Koivisto’s work. There is a new text that surrounds the scenes taken from Macbeth, yet it needs to be fleshed out more. There should be more dialogue between the witches and Lady Macbeth that could comment more on the scenes from the original play and emphasize the Weird Sisters' playful perversity and the villainess’s vulnerability. This interaction is crucial to build the context through which the audience re-encounters Shakespeare’s original work. Furthermore, there is a moment in which the actors suddenly transform into critics who theorize about Lady Macbeth’s real motivations in the original text. The scene, which was well performed by the actors, is an unwelcomed break that bogs down the action. Koivisto must trust her interesting work more and permit her Lady Macbeths to reveal their complexity for themselves. Regardless of its shortcomings, the play is a needed expansion to Shakespeare’s original. As the title suggests, there is indeed “something wicked” in Lady Macbeth, just as there is something loving in her too.
Something Wicked is running until March 9 at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th St.) as part of the 8th Annual FRIGID New York Festival. Tickets cost $16 and can be purchased at www.smarttix.com and www.frigidnewyork.info, or by calling 212-868-4444.