THE MACBETH SHOW adapted by Rebecca Northan from William Shakespeare, directed by Northan, with Ryan Gladstone, Alex Dallas, Derek Flores, Chris Gibbs, Bruce Horak, Roger Morin, Michelle Field and Ruby Dallas. Presented by Monster Theatre at the Tim Sims Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way). Runs to May 1, Thursday-Friday 9 pm, Saturday 10:30 pm. $15. 416-343-0011. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The Macbeth Show, Monster Theatre's 75-minute adaptation of the Bard's bloody tragedy, nearly manages the impossible. It's a sneakily irreverent yet surprisingly respectful take on Shakespeare 's play. Performed with a handful of actors, some pretty impressive puppetry and a whole lot of imagination, the show is first of all a marvel of efficient storytelling. From the opening scene with the Three Witches - in masks with Simpsons-like bulging eyes - to one of the final scenes in which we actually see Burnham Wood scattering through the audience, the show won't have you shifting in your seat.
Director/adaptor Rebecca Northan brings out the comic relief where Shakespeare intended it. For instance, the drunken Porter's scene, right after Duncan's murder, becomes a hilariously bad stand-up routine. "I'm here to lighten the mood at Inverness," quips Derek Flores , one of the city's most under-appreciated comic actors, in one of his many roles here.
But Northan and her troupe also find Monty Pythonesque laughs in questionable diction (how do you pronounce "scone"?) and a broad, clown-like conception of Duncan (a doddering Chris Gibbs ) and his son Malcolm (Flores again) that actually helps delineate character.
Equally powerful are the horrific scenes, which include the riveting murder of Duncan, the gruesome slaughter of Lady Macduff and her children and all the scenes with the witches.
Not everything comes off. A pre-show video trailer is redundant, and Lady Macbeth is followed around by a masseur-cum-slave ( Roger Morin ) whose sole function seems to be to display his bare chest.
Murderous couple Alex Dallas and Ryan Gladstone aren't the subtlest with Shakespeare's poetry - Gladstone in particular is underwhelming and blank. But they do have a palpable sexual chemistry onstage.
And the real star here is the production, artfully pared down to its funny-scary essentials.