Monday, April 23, 2012
I first encountered Aquila when the company was in residence at the University of South Carolina. Their approach to theatre was one of minimal production values but highly clever direction and staging. Their production of The Iliad was eye-opening as they created the Argo using only a half dozen 6 foot poles. Aquila moved to New York in 1999 and has produced here regularly along with national tours and international performances.
Their latest offering is the Bard's Scottish play, performed with a cast of nine on a bare stage at the spartan Gym at Judson. Director Desiree Sanchez has the actors doubling and occasionally tripling roles, and for the most part, it works very well. Working with Peter Meineck's elegant light plot, the stage is divided like a chess board. Though Ms. Sanchez declines to overwork the concept of a chess match, she does exercise the squares of light to clearly define a sense of location.
Guy Oliver-Watts in the title role reflects his training, conveying a Macbeth of manic mood swings. From time to time, his rubber-faced reactions undercut his intensity. As his scheming bride, Rebecca Reaney plays the mood swings with a bit more success, immediately ambitious upon Macbeth's first success and quick to turn to darkness to achieve her aims. Most successful in the cast was Peter F. Gardiner, primarily as Banquo, but giving nice turns in several other supporting roles. Aaron McDaniel is a bit over-earnest as Malcolm, but with that head of gorgeous hair, it's an easy sin to forgive. Rachael Barrington stumbles in the male role of Rosse, but redeems herself as a bitter and frightened Lady Macduff.
It's a solid production, but lacks the clever and interesting staging I've seen from Aquila before. Hopefully, they will get back to that with their next production. Macbeth runs through May 6, 2012. Get tickets here.