By Adam Collier
To get to the venue, my friend and I met at a designated time and place in Little Italy with a group of fellow patrons. There were about a dozen of us in the group.
We were led into a small covered utility space. The middle of this space – big enough for a modest car to park in – was the stage. On either side of the stage, there were improvised benches with lots of soft blankets (the space was unheated, and it was drizzling with rain on that night).
After we all settled in, the performance began.
Though the focus is on the title character – appearing in virtually every scene (save for a sequence when King Duncan enters the shed with milk crates mounted on his feet) – Matchbox Macbeth is very much an ensemble work. Members of the four person cast double as the crew. And because the production runs on a shoestring budget (of just over one-hundred and fifty dollars), the lighting, props and set decorations are spare.
What makes this a remarkable show though is that Litmus Theatre Collective has managed to use the limitations of space, money and the serendipitous events (like pelting rain) that come with an unconventional venue to its advantage.
When, for example, Macbeth is pacing after murdering King Duncan, his scrambled emotional state – though complex with guilt, disbelief and self-loathing – came across to me crystal clear. Or when Macbeth panics over the sight of his dead friend’s hovering face, the intimacy of the venue and clever but uncomplicated theatricality (like the ghost emerges from behind a thin sheet onstage) brought immediacy to the text, drawing me into the action.
On the night I went, just as the action hit its climax, rain began hammering the roof – the effect was perfect.
Although I don’t know Shakespeare’s work very well, the language of Matchbox Macbeth is – I found – quickly digestible, (and as my friend said afterward, “keeps you sharp.”). The story is a bit choppy, because the text is abbreviated. But scene-to-scene the emotions are easy to follow.
Matchbox Macbeth is a very special work that I enjoyed a lot. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets (seating is limited) it’s very worth checking-out.
– Matchbox Macbeth is a production of the Litmus Theatre Collective, and runs to October 31st. Each night there is a seven o’clock and nine o’clock show.
– Matchbox Macbeth features: Jamie Maczko (Macbeth), Rob Renda (Witch), Adriano Sobretodo (Witch), Claire Wynveen (Witch). The show is directed by Matt Walker, assisted by Mariel Marshall.
– Admission cost is PWYC ($10 suggested)
– For more info please see matchboxmacbeth.blogspot.com