Centuries before Breaking Bad introduced the world to Walter White, William Shakespeare told the tale of a tragic hero’s descent into villainy in the iconic play Macbeth. On Saturday afternoon, I had the privilege of catching the last performance of the Crow’s Nest’s three-show run of this captivating story of violence, betrayal and revenge.
The Crow’s Nest is Kenyon’s theater group dedicated entirely to the works of William Shakespeare, and their reverence for the Bard was evident in every aspect of the show. It was an expert balance of old and new, combining the grandiosity of Shakespeare’s writing with a more minimal set and costume design. The choice to stage the show in the Harlene Marley Black Box Theater enhanced the intimate, austere atmosphere. The “stage” was simply a white plastic tarp lying on the Black Box’s floor, and the only set piece was a glass bowl of water on a stand in the center of the tarp. The actors all wore black and white, with the exception of the three witches, who stood out in flowy purple and maroon costumes.
The production implemented color very intentionally, and this was most evident in the frequent use of fake blood. At the beginning of the show, the white tarp was pristine and the water in the bowl was clear. With each onstage death (and there were many), the tarp grew increasingly blood splattered. Similarly, every time Macbeth and Lady Macbeth washed their hands of their crimes, the water became a deeper shade of red.
With such a talented and well-directed cast, it would be inaccurate to say that any one performer stole the show. Sebastien Lee-Rossing ’25 played the titular role, and Isabel Keener ’24 starred alongside him as the ruthlessly ambitious Lady Macbeth. Both actors gave strong individual performances, but they were most compelling when they shared the stage. Whether they were gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes or plotting murder (or doing both at once), their chemistry was magnetic. Another standout performance was John Franz ’25 as a drunken porter. The character only appears in one scene, but Franz played up the physical humor of his intoxicated antics to the extreme. He was clearly having the time of his life as he staggered across the stage and took swigs from a wine bottle, and the audience roared with laughter at his infectious humor.
There is a common theatrical superstition that saying the name “Macbeth” during rehearsals will jinx a production. “We were especially careful about it once when we had rehearsal on Friday the 13th,” Sadie Wayne ’26, who played one of the witches, wrote in a message to the Collegian. “We came up with a ritual that involved running around the building and doing silly activities to ‘undo the curse.’” Evidently, these efforts were successful. The show went off without a hitch — the fire burned and the cauldron bubbled, but there was no toil and trouble to be found.