By Victoria Espinoza Columnist
In association with Hofstra University’s 65th annual Hofstra Shakespeare Festival, “Something Wicked,” a one-hour Macbeth, was performed by Hofstra students this past week. Saturday, March 8, at 2 p.m. included a special performance with “Kemp’s Jig: Comedy in Early Music,” put on by the Hofstra Collegium Musicum.
“Something Wicked” was directed by Ilona Pierce, whose many specific directing choices made this show stand out as a visually pleasing production.
Each actor walked onto the stage as the show began and sat on their own suitcase, which the audience soon discovered was filled with their various costumes. The actors played multiple characters, with the sole exception being Zachary Leipert, the actor who played Macbeth. The suitcases actually ended up being more effective than the stage when it came to establishing a barrier between the world of Macbeth and the real world. As soon as each actor reached a suitcase and either sat or stood behind it, they dropped whatever character they were in and silently waited for their next scenes.
There were moments when the actors were still involved with the scene, even if they were sitting on the suitcases. The only sound produced throughout the show was created by the actors themselves, which made for a much more intimate and enjoyable setting. Instrumentally, there was a drumhead, wood blocks, a thunder drum and more. They also took advantage of their own voices to create whispers, wind sounds and screams.
The most effective element was the use of sheets. The witches started off the show, playing with a pale sheet in a creepy and aggressive way, which successfully added to the unnerving and unsettling vibe that each scene with the witches was meant to convey. Throughout the show the witches used the sheets as more than just a simple prop.
Aside from the witches’ use of the sheets, a bright red sheet was used to convey blood during many parts of the show. It was used most successfully at the climax of the play, during the fight between Macbeth and MacDuff, when the sheet was raised and dropped in front of the two characters as they were fighting to the death. Each time the sheet dropped, the actors would be in a different fighting pose than the last time you saw them, and then once Macbeth died he was fully engulfed in the red sheet. It was a very visually powerful scene and extremely well executed.
Cassie DeMarco as Lady Macbeth emulated all the qualities that one thinks of when they think of Lady Macbeth: power, manipulation and insanity. DeMarco delivered all her lines in a convincing manner, but the truly impressive feat was what she communicated with her body language. Before uttering a word, the audience knew she was going to manipulate Macbeth by her slow, seductive walk towards him, with deliberation in every step. Minor characters also stood out, like Samantha Cunha during her role as the comical Porter. She got some of the biggest reactions from the audience. Cunha skillfully acted inebriated while still delivering her lines intelligibly, never making the Porter seem like just a sloppy side character. Alexis DiGregorio, as one of the witches, stood out as the most frightening, effective and attention-grabbing of the three.
Leipert’s interpretation of Macbeth was at times strong and convincing during his decline into madness. However, there were a few moments when he made Macbeth seem less serious than I expected. Since it’s a touring show, I’m sure the less overwhelming and over-the-top Macbeth will go over well with high school students.
Overall the visual aspects of the show were the most memorable, and the intimate nature of this performance seems like it will work very well when “Something Wicked” begins its tour.