When you hear that a theater company is performing Shakespeare’s Macbeth, you probably think to yourself “Oh yea…I know Macbeth. How will this be any different from all the other times I’ve seen this show?” Well, if you go see King’s Players Mme. Macbeth at this year’s Fringe show, you are in for a surprise! How do you make a 400+ year old play seem new? Why, you switch the gender of all the players, of course!
In this production, Macbeth (Kate Gadway) is a woman, so is King Duncan (Jacinda Bronaugh), Banquo (Kimberly Pyle), Malcolm (Brittany Morgan), and Macduff (Alexia Poe). In this gender-bending version of Macbeth, the woman are kings and rulers, they are the warriors. All the female parts of the traditional play are, of course, now males—Lady Macbeth (Timothy R. King), Lady Macduff (Danny Rovin), and various “female” servants.
This script and storyline for this production remains largely the same as Shakespeare’s original. The show opens with three witches (played by King, Mitch Irzinski, and a voice off-stage which in later scenes is replaced by Rovin) deciding that they will meet with Macbeth, Thane of Glamis and Banquo. The next scene, we are introduced to the Royal family when a wounded soldier reports to King Duncan, and his sons Malcom and Donalbain (Maddie Gadway) about Macbeth and Banquo’s military victory over Norway and Ireland. Macbeth and Banquo then meets with the mysterious witches who tell Macbeth that he will be king and tells Banquo that he will father a line of kings.
This leads Macbeth, at the urging of his wife Lady Macbeth to plot to kill King Duncan and take the throne for himself. Once on the throne, Macbeth haunted by his evil doings, becomes more and more suspicious and orders more assassinations, murders, and other cruel punishments to protect his seat on the throne. He sends murderers (Jane Gibbins-Harding and Morgan) after Banquo and his son, Fleance (Gadway) as well as orders the murders of Lady Macduff, Macduff’s young son, and his entire household after Macduff flees to England because of his suspicions about Macbeth. Even during all of this, Macbeth knows he cant be defeated, because of the witches’ prophecies that he can’t be harmed by anyone born of woman, and that he is safe until Great Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill. But during Malcolm’s battle to regain his proper seat on the throne, all of these prophecies comes true and Macbeth is killed.
Not only does Mme. Macbeth call to question gender issues and stereotypes but there are some great fight scenes choreographed by Danny Rovin and Fight Captain Mitch Irzinski. Gadway is fantastic as Macbeth, sturdy and manly, all the things you would expect of a great warrior. But she has a certain gracefulness that only a woman could bring to the role.
King in his role as Lady Macbeth is another highlight. He personified and projected the ladylike qualities that a highborn woman such as Lady Macbeth would possess with his coquettish smile and coy glances. While this is commonly known as one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, there were still some great comedic moments, such as when the stage hands tried to drag a very heavy, Lady Macduff off the stage after she was murdered.
Four and a half stars for great performances from a fantastic cast and exciting fight scenes. I’d say this is definitely one to check out, especially if you are a fan of The Bard’s work!
2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview: ‘Mme. Macbeth’ by Timothy King.