MILWAUKEE - Shakespeare
continues to have his fans. Though some are turned off by his language, some
find it a treasure worth mining.
Wisconsin Lutheran College
just took on quite a challenge in presenting “In Spite of Thunder: The Macbeth
Project,” a reconstructed version of the original. Though the playwright,
Suzan Zeder, took some liberties in the setting and the casting, the bard’s
beautiful language remains intact. It is an adventurous new journey down a
familiar path. Most of us studied “Macbeth” somewhere in our education, but
this fresh approach forces us to take a good look at it again. Many of the
soliloquies will sound familiar.
Because the themes of greed
and power continue to resonate in the modern world, “Macbeth” will always
have something to say to us. What is
a given person willing to do to accrue more money, more power, more influence?
Almost anything, in some cases. It can become an insatiable addiction, one even
more compelling than alcohol, drugs or sex.
What is so unique about
Zeder’s spin on this story is her decision to use four different couples in
the cast to alternate taking the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. This
switching of roles emphasizes that we are all capable of trading our ethics for
a shot in the spotlight, that we are all vulnerable to outside pressure to do
something that is against our better nature, that the seeds of evil exist in
each of us.
The compelling set design by
professor Jay Sierszn creates the atmosphere of an underworld of crime and
violence. Even the eerie tunnel upstage suggests an escape route; the general
seediness and graffiti bespeak destruction. It is a very effective backdrop for
the evil that is unleashed here, all instigated by Lady Macbeth, who, to me, is
the female counterpart to Iago, the villain in “Othello.”
The very capable cast has
mastered Shakespeare’s language. The meaning and beauty of the lines come
across clearly. The lighting and sound effects contribute to the frightening
ambience, thanks to the expertise of Aaron Siegmann and Ashley DeVos. Grant
Coppersmith’s percussive skills also add to the heady blend.
All eight members of the
cast must be credited for their effort and accomplishments; Thomas Sebald, Marah
Nitz, Joshua Scheibe, Katlyn Rogers, Zachary Stohlman, Megan Ann Jacobs,
Abednego Samudera and Elaina Helmen. They all played multiple roles with fervor
and credibility. It was a joy to experience.
And kudos, above all, to
professor Simon Provan, who offered his guidance and expertise in directing this