I want to build your anticipation here – set the scene. You walk into Academic Hall, a space which often feels cavernous for Fringe shows, and see a four-legged steel frame nearly as wide as the stage and stretching up into the grid, with a long red strand of silk affixed at its apex and stretching to the floor. Yes, you think Someone is finally going to use this space! Then you find your seat, and open the program. You learn that three young women with circus training are going to tell you what happened to cause the rise and fall of Shakespeare’s Macbeth by climbing, twisting, and dancing with this immense contraption. These are The Witches of Macbeth, and they do not disappoint.
I’ve not seen very many circus acts, so it falls outside my realm of expertise, but that doesn’t make this impressive feat any less… wicked. The witches (Lindsay Bellaire, Lindsay Sippel Eitzen, and Emily Hughes) each develop a distinct physicality that establishes their respective characters from the moment they appear on stage. Moreover, they never stop.
The production uses the physicality of the actors’ performance as a tool in telling the story. As witches, their physicality becomes a crucial element in spell-casting and their interactions with one another and the world. Each sentence is filled with the character’s entire being: the vocal, physical and textual elements fuse in a powerful brew of narrative. The performance is stylized in an interesting way, without being overly demonstrative or telegraphed.
This choice encompasses the whole of the acting, including the fight scenes, which are rhythmic and suggestive of the violence they depict. No one is trying to fight in a realistic manner (they’re witches!), but since the element of dance and acrobatics has already been established as part of the way their characters interact with the universe, this makes a great sense that it otherwise might not. If the movements weren’t so rhythmic all the time, I might not have noticed the few moments during the acrobatic bits of spell-casting that missed landing precisely on time. As it was, these were very minor and could likely be ironed out with a bit more time and attention.
Since this is a modified version of Shakespeare (employing almost entirely new text), the language in which the witches speak strives to reflect and meld with the Elizabethan language of the original. Writer Phillip Psutka’s script remains outstandingly true to this intention, though the odd word struck me as being slightly misplaced in terms of rhythm or diction. Despite this, I really commend him for how well done this is in 99% of the play.
The deep unity of style and vision is carried throughout this production with balance by the strong cast, direction, and tech. It’s certainly a mark in the show’s favour that my biggest wish (and I know how hard this is to do so close to the grid), is that they had found a way to light the top of the silks a bit more.


One thought on “Three Witches Fly High

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