side project’s LADY M Is Intimate & Powerful
Reviewed by: RUSSELL GOELTENBODT
The side project theater company located in Roger’s Park, and Artistic Director, Adam Webster continues their 2012/2013 season with the World Premiere of “Lady M”. Lady M is a play taken from and adapted from William Shakespeare’s famed “Macbeth” which features intrigue, and dreams, which result in nightmares and Lady Macbeth’s progressive mental illness.
This adaptation of “Macbeth” was adapted and directed by Laley Lippard. Laley is currently completing her MFA degree at Northwestern University. Laley had directed Macbeth at Northwestern and examined the play from Lady Macbeth’s perspective. “Lady M” depicts what is happening in her mind after the Macbeths have been crowned, after the murders, just before Macbeth goes to war with the English. The play begins with the doctors observing Lady Macbeth’s strange behavior and then returns to that single scene throughout the play. The doctors observe her reliving the conspiracy with Macbeth leading to the murder of his adversaries. Lady Macbeth then tries to cleanse herself of the guilt over the course of the night resulting from her disturbing dreams. This adaptation of “Macbeth” is the creative, imaginative re-creation of how Lady Macbeth relives her dreams and memory throughout the play. Lady Macbeth is written into scenes that she was originally never in through the play “Macbeth”. This adaptation looks through Lady Macbeth’s eyes to see ambition and fantasy, which lead to illusion and her growing mental illness. This play was rewritten to include Lady Macbeth’s possessed spirit and how it later affected her marriage and partnership with her husband.
“Lady M” is superbly acted and interpreted by Kristi Webb. Kristi’s interpretation and performance illustrates Lady Macbeth’s illusions and paranoia resulting from her dreams and a failed pregnancy. This scene is brilliantly directed by Ms. Lippard who has Lady Macbeth sing a lullaby by cradling a chair and her nightgown believing it is her baby. Then later through her dream, depicts Lady Macbeth‘s painful childbirth. Through Lady Macbeth’s dreams, we see that she has converted all of the characters to all male characters. This is because Lady Macbeth is a woman alone surrounded by men fighting for power. Lady Macbeth’s dreams are sometime’s irrational and very emotional.
Macbeth, who is played by Corey Noble, is a king who is tough and consumed with power. He can see Lady Macbeth’s struggle with her sanity, but is more consumed by his power and survival. Their partnership both intimate and powerful, ultimately leads them to conspiring together to murder the others that may interfere with Macbeth’s rule. Then riddled by guilt, Lady Macbeth descends into darkness.
Both performances by Corey and Kristi are powerful and very believable. Their love scenes were believable without being cheesy. It was also refreshing to see Shakespeare as a conversation that flows rather than being over acted and played to the audience. In fact, the entire cast which included Brian E. Crawford as Banquo, Jeff Kursz as MacDuff; Ryan Czerwonko and Mike Steele as the Sisters, Nurse and doctor; played beautifully to each other’s character involving beautiful soliloques and conversations which made sense and much easier to follow.
The sets and props are minimal to better depict a dream and forces the audience to use their imagination. The minimalism of the show puts emphasis on the compelling beautiful language, on the power of the characters’ and on the audience’s imagination. The audience is directed to focus on the characters and their dialogue, rather than the actions on stage. Therefore, the scenes and images overlap to depict what is happening in Lady Macbeth’s mind. However, some minimal props may be helpful and necessary in aiding some of the audience, including myself, to spend less time interpreting some of the actions which may be somewhat confusing. Although, I do admit the concept is original and ingenious. I am just not certain if every theater member will get it. In my opinion, some of the actions may need some clarity.
Macbeth is strongly about imagination, madness, magic, and the power of words. This adaptation is very clear in bringing all of these elements forward. All the while, following Lady Macbeth’s decent into a guilt induced madness.
I will have to admit that “Lady M” was very well done, both by direction and acting. It is also very effective being performed in the very intimate theater space that The Side Project provides. I am certain that we will see many innovative productions from Laley Lippard in the future. I am looking forward to it.
Performances for “Lady M” will continue until February 6 at 1439 w. jarvis, chicago, 773-340-0140. For more information visit www.thesideproject.net.