Andrew Aguilar’s visionary Macbeth

The first production I was privileged to see at L.I.P. Service, was David Rabe’s Streamers, a play I don’t think gets staged very often. It’s a difficult show (Rabe can be excruciating) but they grabbed the dragon by the horns and refused to let go. I continue to be impressed by the distinctive work they choose to stage: edgy, eccentric, alienated, profoundly dark shows that drag you to a netherworld of poetic pain and amazement. The Whale, Pomerance’s The Elephant Man, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and Trainspotting, to name a few. There have been problems, but never was I bored, or disappointed by derivative content. L.I.P. Service always strives to engage, intrigue and challenge the audience.

Without getting into a lot of annoying details, I attended L.I.P. Service’s production of Macbeth (conceived and adapted by Andrew Aguilar) when I was still recovering. It closed awhile ago, and I offer my apologies for getting it out so late. Aguilar’s vision of Macbeth was raw, beguiling, trippy, outlandish, and very entertaining. In keeping with the practice of making Shakespeare more accessible, this Macbeth was more contemporary. Certain aspects were at once familiar and strange to 21st Century eyes. Shakespeare’s language was not tampered with, though I got the impression some excisions were made. Much of the scenery seemed minimalized and/or stylized, though the necessarily salient points were made.

There was much to dazzle in Andrew Aguilar’s version of Macbeth (directed by Jason Leyva) bold choices and a scrumptious chill to Ryan Matthieu’s extraterrestial, flamboyant costumes. Macbeth himself had a roaring, robust gusto, and Lady Macbeth a patrician, seductive demeanor that was surprising and alluring. Death symbols abound, in addition to a prevalence of black attire, to remind us that once Macbeth (and his wife) commit the first murder, more will inevitably follow. The music selections were appropriately disturbing and the profusion of smoke and grim, supernatural trappings enhanced the queasy feeling of kindness eclipsed by compulsive ambition. Not all of the risks hit the mark, but the experience, overall, was rich, surprising, fresh, juicy and quite satisfying.

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