Ambition has many faces in Counterweight’s “Macbeth”

“Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires.”

“Normally, when you see a play, you follow a face,” Ethan Everhart begins. But here, roles switch from one actor to another after each scene. You identify Macbeth by a hat, Banquo a black scarf, Duncan a draped coat. By night’s end, major characters will have worn five different faces.

The play unfolds on a throw rug, inches away, lit by a handful of lanterns. As the audience arrives, the actors set out another chair around the circle. It takes on the air of an ancient ritual, or a ghost story shared by a campfire.

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Rather than shape his actors into a uniform style, Everhart celebrates their differences:

Joe O’Rear savors the poetry. He guides you through each phrase, letting Shakespeare’s words take center stage.

Sophie Thunberg cranks up the emotional intensity, her screams the loudest, her ambitions all-consuming.

Ethan Everhart emphasizes the haunted, mystical aspects of “Macbeth,” whether as a trembling thane or a creepy, clutching spirit.

Amber Carlton builds character through touch, from a passionate embrace to an icy grip.

Joanne Koehler holds the show together as the chameleon, effortlessly slipping between roles.

The actors’ diverse strengths make rich characters even richer—particularly Lady Macbeth. The Weird Sisters also make for delightful company, floating along the edges with their devious smiles.

In the end, Counterweight strips away the distractions that can plague other Shakespeare productions and tells a simple tale of deadly deeds.

Additional Notes:
Dylan Mosley’s combat choreography, which opts for street-style knife fights and grappling, really pops in such an intimate space. The final duel between Macbeth and Macduff takes on a brutality that staged swords rarely offer.

Thanks to Switchback Coffee Roasters for hosting opening weekend. The show moves to The Modbo for closing week.

“Macbeth” contains violence, bloodshed and conjured spirits.

Presented by Counterweight Theatre Lab
October 20 – October 30, 2017

The Modbo
17C E Bijou St

Admission: $12 general, $6 students
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

“Macbeth” finishes its run with an ArtPOP event at Academy Art & Frame (7560 Academy Blvd N) on Monday, October 30, at 5:30 pm.

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