A collaboration of the Georgetown University theater and performance studies program and Mask & Bauble Dramatic Society, Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is a dark play that straddles the line between dreams and reality. “Macbeth” is the final installment of “Nature’s Mirror: A Season of Evil and Noble Acts,” the theater and performance studies program’s 2011-2012 season in the Davis Performing Arts Center. With this finale, the department has a huge success in a show that’s both deeply disturbing and thought provoking.

The plot revolves around the titular main character — played by Ben Prout (COL ’15) — as he is forced to contend with his inner demons. After the three witches — played by Jeremy Guyton (COL ’12), Betsy Helmer (COL ’13) and Marina Young (COL ’13) — reveal to Macbeth that he will one day become the king of Scotland, he decides to take matters into his own hands. Instead of letting fate take its course and waiting for the crown to come to him, Macbeth decides to murder King Duncan, played by Justin McCarthy (COL ’15).

From the moment he commits the crime, Macbeth regrets his decision, and his guilt manifests through encounters with various occult figures, such as the ghost of King Duncan, in his daily life. His wife, Lady Macbeth (Maria Edmundson [COL ’12]), knows very well what plagues her husband, and she relieves her husband’s conscience by reminding him that he cannot change the past. Such a matter-of-fact statement does nothing to assuage Macbeth’s remorse. What’s more, after his first act of murder, Macbeth spirals even further into a downward cycle of depravity by committing several more in order to cover his tracks. The ghosts of all of Macbeth’s victims confront him at various points throughout the play, further merging his reality with his dream world. The ghosts do a great job portraying the horror that Macbeth is faced with as Prout masterfully illustrates his character’s fall.

As Macbeth grapples with the possibility of his own insanity, McDuff — a Scottish nobleman (played by Jeremy Guyton [COL ’12]) whose wife and kids are murdered by Macbeth — plots to rid Scotland of the tyrannical Macbeth and restore the Scottish throne to its rightful heir, Malcolm (Ed Walczak [COL ’14]), the son of the late King Duncan.

Led by professor Maya E. Roth, student Producer Lorrie Damerau (COL ’13) and Stage Manager Katie Chew (COL ’12), this dynamic cast brings to life one of William Shakespeare’s most acclaimed plays. Accompanied by light and sound effects — designed by department of performing arts Technical Director Robbie Hayes and Becca Nadler (COL ’12) respectively — this staging of Macbeth engenders the feeling of an inevitable blurring between the corporeal and ethereal upon the audience. The technical aspects of the show are amazing. The characters fly on and off the stage and at times even into the audience. As ghosts and Scottish soldiers alike perform from the balconies of the theater, the realms of the living and the dead become less defined in both Macbeth’s mind and those of the audience.

To further intensify the phantasmal atmosphere of the play, its scenes are set on a wooden stage with trap doors and a giant ,overarching, gnarled tree shaped into an incomplete circle. The presence of this partial circle alludes to the sense of unfinished business aroused by the reappearing ghosts of Macbeth’s victims. Representing the ambiguous destination of the dead and the living in Macbeth, characters enter and disappear from the stage through the trapdoors, and spells are conjured up by the witches in this same space.

If the goal of this play was to raise questions about the occult and provoke thoughts about the tentative nature of good and evil, Macbeth was a success.

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