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Macbeth - James Madison High School - Vienna, Virginia - November 10, 2017

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Macbeth - James Madison High School - Vienna, Virginia - November 10, 2017

Katherine Kelly

McLean High School

 

Lighting strikes a windy night sky as three sisters hiss and cackle, preparing to change a kingdom forever. In James Madison High School's chilling performance of Macbeth, the danger of a prophecy is revealed as a man's desire for power twists his mind and provokes his bloody demise.

 

William Shakespeare's Macbeth is said to have been first performed in 1606. The story follows Macbeth, an acclaimed Scottish general who encounters three witches one night after a battle. They tell him he is destined to become King of Scotland, and it isn't long before his ambition and his wife's urging cause him to murder the current king to expedite the process. Overcome with guilt and regret, Macbeth must continue to kill to keep his name clean and protect his reign. In this bloody and supernatural tragedy, the repercussions of violence and greed are explored.

 

Performing the titular role of Macbeth, Max Jackson transformed himself into a desperate and power hungry mad man. Artfully capturing the complexity of his character, he portrayed his demising state of mind with an impressive range of emotion. The cunning mastermind who helped goad Macbeth towards murder, Lady Macbeth, was played by Charlotte Reed. Reed's emotional dexterity allowed her to establish a strong manipulative influence over Macbeth, as she altered between sweet and angry tones to appeal to him. Her adept understanding of her character was especially clear during her powerful soliloquy in which she imagined blood on her hands: infusing each word and action with pain, Reed created a gripping scene.

 

Macbeth isn't complete without dark and magical twists. Toiling and charming through the night, the Weird Sisters were mesmerizing. Their shrill voices, personalized physicality, and unsettling demeanors created the most spine-chilling moments of the performance. Other notable mentions were Banquo (Zac Spafford) with his supernatural ghost impression, Macduff (Nick Hovis) who carried his strong character with great poise, and the Porter (Charles Arase) who provided hilarious comedic relief as he stumbled about the stage in a drunken state. The entire cast handled the complex language of the play proficiently, clearly understanding their character's intents and acting on them effectively. This, along with the energy they brought, made for an app-laudable ensemble.

 

The technical elements of the production transformed the stage into a mystical masterpiece. Lighting was artfully used to accentuate moods, carry transitions, and create different settings. Sound effects and ambient music brought scenes to life, enhancing mysterious and intense moments accordingly. Each prop possessed visible attention to detail:  bloodied swords, period appropriate toys, and a symbolic throne complementing the performance. Makeup and costumes enhanced each character, with a terrific gown on Lady Macbeth highlighting her selfishness and haunting makeup on the witches contributing to their eccentricity.

 

Bringing magic, destruction, and rampant power into the spotlight, James Madison High School captured the dreadful consequences of blind desire in their unforgettable performance of Macbeth.


Anne Castillo

George Mason High School

 

Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble … something was brewing at James Madison High School on Friday night, and it was spellbinding. In a captivating performance of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the versatile and energetic cast breathed life into a dark, tragic tale. The Tragedy of Macbeth is the enchanting and beloved Shakespearean tragedy, believed to be first performed in 1606. Chronicling the dangers of tyranny and greed, this story is a cautionary tale for us all. In a quest for political gain, Macbeth and his Lady embark upon a purge to rise to fame. To say the least, something wicked this way comes.

 

James Madison High School's performance was anchored by phenomenal leads and a wonderfully talented ensemble. Tackling complexity and darkness isn't easy, but they did so with grace and compelling characterization.

 

Macbeth (Max Jackson) was a riveting testament to the danger of greed, accompanied by his dark, manipulative wife Lady Macbeth (Charlotte Reed). Reed's monologues were enthralling, and Jackson's attention to detail made a beautiful contribution, from his shaking hands on the dagger as he contemplated suicide, to his increasing madness as Banquo's ghost stalked him. Even as they descended into murderous madness, there was an electrifying chemistry between Reed and Jackson that kept us on the edge of our seats. The two leads were so skilled that even their silence was captivating and deeply emotive.

 

The supporting cast was a solid foundation for a magical show. The Weird Sisters (Claire Ashby, Hunter Slingbaum, Allison Sciuto) and Hecate (Heather Colbert) were delightfully sinister, with stunning makeup and perfectly creepy demeanors as they guided the plot along.  Nick Hovis as Macduff, accompanied by his gentle wife Lady Macduff (Jenna Haleen) was incredibly skilled with his delivery, and brought a thrilling sense of energy to the show.

 

The technical aspects of Macbeth were astounding. In an eerie twist, Banquo's pale, blood-stained ghost suddenly rose from the banquet table, stalking toward Macbeth as if in a trance. The Weird Sisters brewed their potions in an enormous cauldron, from which steam and smoke shrouded the emerging, shadowy figures. The fight choreography deserved thunderous applause - this production tackled brutal battle gracefully, with perfectly synchronized and realistic fighting. Also fascinating was the stylistic use of blood makeup - on more than one occasion, characters breathlessly takes the stage, covered in fresh blood splattered upon their faces or clothes. Perhaps most fascinating of all was the scene in which a sword was originally clean, then emerged bloody from its freshly stabbed victim.

 

James Madison High School's Macbeth was a polished and captivating presentation of this beloved text, bringing to life Shakespeare's vision of darkness, despair, and doom. This production deserves a round of applause, for it was nothing short of enchanting.

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