Something Wicked

by Ron Cohen · February 24, 2014

Indie Artists on New Plays #52 Ron Cohen looks at Something Wickedpresented by Everyday Inferno Theatre Company, part of FRIGID new york The Frigid New York Festival adds to this town’s ongoing invasion of  Macbeths with an imaginative if not terribly illuminating close-up on the lady of the household. The show, presented by the intriguingly named Everyday Inferno Theatre Company, is called Something Wicked, It, of course, comes on the heels of Lincoln Center’s mounting of the Shakespeare classic starring Ethan Hawke. Earlier, Alan Cumming was busy playing just about all of the play’s dramatis personae in an almost-one-person show on Broadway, and later, starting at the end of  May, Kenneth Branagh will be battling his way as the ambitious Scotsman through the Park Avenue Armory. Meanwhile, audiences continue prowling through a hotel to watch a nearly wordless film noir-inspired version of Macbeth, entitled Sleep No More.

At the start of Something Wicked, Lady M is pronounced dead on a darkened stage, and when the lights come up, we see her awaking, an attractive youthful gal in a red, sleeveless floor-length gown, appearing not at all the worse for wear. However, she is presumably in purgatory and three evil-looking demons -- the program identifies them as Shakespeare’s very own three witches -- are there with her. As the witches hover about her or lurk in corners, the lady is tormented by watching re-enactments of scenes from her life, as written by the Bard. There is also interpolated dialogue giving the lady additional opportunities to ponder her deeds. In a few instances, she is confronted by the ghosts of some of the Macbeths’ victims. However, she has little chance to redeem herself. One of the most frequently quoted lines from Shakespeare’s text is “What’s done cannot be undone.“

The show is directed with some flair by Anaïs Koivisto, the artistic director of Everyday Inferno; she also adapted the material. Koivisto says in the play’s press material that she aims to give Lady Macbeth “a chance to speak her piece.” I’m not sure that I learned anything new about the character here or that my feelings about her were altered to any extent. She remains a lady dedicated to her husband, caught up in malevolent ambition and then destroyed by her conscience.

Nevertheless, Koivisto and her actors have put together a diverting 45 minutes or so. Kathryn  Connors makes a convincingly troubled if not especially dynamic Lady Macbeth, and Laura Epperson, Sam Bruce and Paul Gregg slither about threateningly and enjoyably as the three witches.  Zachary Libresco, Lila Newman, Samuel Platizky, Ali Stoner and Jay William Thomas divvy up various roles in commendable fashion.

The proceedings are enlivened by some nicely done dance  and song interludes, which have been created by the company, and the fact the company performs in bare feet adds to the dance concert feel. The highpoint of the show, though, was when four of the actors transform briefly into a quartet of contemporary Shakespeare scholars -- three pedantic males and one angry uber-feminist female -- and Lady Macbeth is forced to listen to them bicker over their various interpretations of her character. The fact that much of what they say is humorously familiar, however, seems  only to underscore the difficulty of finding anything new to say about Lady Macbeth at this late juncture.





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