This Scottish play is worth watching

Tune into the arts and turn off your TV

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Instead of turning on the evening news to hear about violence, corrupt behavior, cover ups and witch hunts, I suggest you attend Trinity Rep’s latest production of “Macbeth.”

Directed by Curt Columbus, this modern-day telling of the famously-cursed play includes a live DJ and elements of magic. The Shakespearean thriller bursts at breakneck speed with more suspense, murder, and madness than a blockbuster film.

“I feel that there is an urgent need to tell this story, today,” says Columbus. “I believe we need stories about the cost of blind ambition in our culture right now and about the triumph of honor over that ambition. ‘Macbeth’ is a vivid telling of that very tale, with some of the most beautiful, clear language available in any Shakespeare play, as well as a thrilling opportunity for a sexy, haunting staging.”

“Macbeth” features resident acting company member Mauro Hantman as the title character. As the future king of Scotland, Hantman combines aspiration with avarice and superstition with spite. Pushed by his ruthless wife, Macbeth’s bloody rise to power fuels his ego which ultimately brings about his brutal end.

Macbeth is tempted by the eerie visions of three mysterious witches, played by Stephen Berenson, Janice Duclos and Jeanine Kane. The witches also double as other characters, and Berenson’s portrayal of the porter is worth mentioning. He provides tremendous comic relief amid the grim tale of unchecked greed and ambition.

Lady Macbeth, one of most sought-after roles for an actress, is played by alumna of the Brown/Trinity Rep master’s program Julia Atwood ’17. Her eventual guilt leads to a gripping descent into madness during the final act.

Stephen Thorne plays Banquo, Macbeth’s friend and fellow soldier, and he is always a delight to watch on stage. Other notable cast members are Alexander Plat (Macduff), Rachel Warren (Lenox and Lady Macduff) and Fred Sullivan (Ross).

The actors do a thorough job of interpreting the script and keeping the audience’s attention. Overall, the techno elements complement the contemporary aspects of the production. The set is structured with multi-levels, including a catwalk, hideaways and stairs descending below the stage. While the play does not specifically address today’s political unrest. It is clear to see the correlation between pernicious behavior and governmental turbulence.

Columbus believes that a play like “Macbeth” is “linked to feelings of political and moral instability, to a sense of universal dread of the times, to a feeling that all of the old, reliable rules have been cast aside.” He adds, “It is this political DNA that makes ‘Macbeth’ such a timely play, particularly for our political moment….. I can't wait to share it with Trinity Rep's audience.”

Tickets are on sale through March 3 at trinityrep.com, by calling 401-351-4242 or at the theater’s box office at 201 Washington St., Providence.

KARA MARZIALI is a theater aficionado and contributor to Jewish Rhode Island.