‘Macbeth’ is a timeless tragedy powered by greed and violence at the hands of loved ones

Photo courtesy of Idaho Shakespeare Festival

*Spoilers! But you had 400 years to read the play*

Boise State University’s Department of Theatre presented William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” a timeless play depicting themes of betrayal, camaraderie and violence.

“Macbeth,” originally written in 1606, tells the story of Macbeth (Keenan Roark), a brave Scottish general who receives a prophecy from the “Wyrd sisters” (Anna Bradburn, Demi Howell and Gabby Lenberg) telling him he will be king. However, this is no easy feat, as King Duncan (Kira Compton) is alive and well.

This prophetic message takes hold of Macbeth, blurring the line between his morals and his greed. With heavy persuasion weaponized by his wife, Lady Macbeth (Zoë Kelly), things quickly turn violent.

The lighting crew of the production played a vital role in the overall atmosphere. They perfectly captured the emotions expressed by the actors, almost inviting the audience to truly immerse themselves into the experience.

The play starts fast, with sudden bright lights. Macbeth, realizing the Wyrd sisters prophecies are true, tells his wife of their prophecy, who belittles him until he gives in and murders the king. Racked with guilt, Macbeth laments his actions, but takes on his duties as the new king.

The Wyrd sisters also prophesied that while Macbeth’s closest friend and companion, Banquo (Austin Renz), would not be king, his children would be. Hungry for power, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth conclude that Banquo and his child must be murdered, though the child escapes, creating a sense of panic that rippled beyond Macbeth and into the audience.

Roark portrays Macbeth’s growing paranoia beautifully as he is haunted by the ghost of Banquo, portrayed by an eerily lit stool that sits upon the stage.

“Thou canst not say I did it,” Roark yelled. “Never shake thy gory locks at me.” Both the audience and the other characters on stage cannot deny the growing delusion that plagues Macbeth.

[Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s adaptation of “Macbeth.”]
Photo courtesy of Idaho Shakespeare Festival

Kelly presented a captivating portrayal of the conniving Lady Macbeth, suffering none of the same uncertainty that follows her husband. She delivers a monologue lit by somber, warm lighting, creating a feeling of intimacy between her thoughts and the audience.

It is nearly impossible to watch the play and not feel as though the burdens of Macbeth and his wife sit upon the shoulders of the audience as well. 

In a panic, Macbeth visits the Wyrd sisters again, who assure him he will remain king as long as the forest never impedes on their territory, and that he is not killed by a man not born from a woman. This pacifies Macbeth and fills him with false confidence as soldiers use tree branches to shield them, creating the illusion that the forest is moving towards him. Macduff (Jesse Bellamy), another nobleman who succeeds in killing Macbeth, was born from a cesarean birth, proving yet another betrayal between the characters.

Kelly delivers yet another monologue where she sleepwalks on stage. In a fit of panic and remorse, she bemoans what she believes is her permanently bloodstained hands. She leaves the stage, and we later learn she has died. They allude to a suicide, though it is never confirmed.

The play concludes with the killing of Macbeth and Malcolm (Jacob Cabral), the original king’s son, becoming king in a fast-paced climax that leaves the audience in awe of their performance.

Austin Renz, a Boise State Theatre Arts senior and the actor for Banquo, shared some insight about preparing for the performance and the jitters that accompany the production crew on opening night. 

“It’s the moment you get to take the story you’ve been crafting with everyone,” Renz said. “and you can display it for people for the first time.”

As Renz is graduating this spring, his portrayal of Banquo is his last Boise State performance, making this a bittersweet yet rewarding experience.

“It’s a perfect way to cap off this part of my life, and I am very happy with what we made,” he said. 

Renz and the other talented actors and stage crew worked relentlessly on this production. Months of memorizing lines, stage directions and crafting the perfect lighting that enhanced every scene paid off greatly. The audience was mesmerized from start to finish.

Macbeth is showing at the Morrison Center until April 22. All those who love Shakespearean conflict, or can simply acknowledge a wonderful performance, are urged to pay a visit to Macbeth and watch the tragedy unfold.

A free rendition of a timeless classic is a wonderful way to take part in the arts on campus. All Boise State students are permitted a free ticket with a Bronco ID.

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