March 29, 2017
Filed under ENTERTAINMENT
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The play began subtly; phones were still on, people were whispering and the theater was well-lit as the actors on stage bustled about in black suits and pencil skirts. It was not until the lights dimmed and the three witches, played by junior Pallavi Rajan, seniors Kuki Misra and Yatziri Arias, descended the stage that the audience realized that “Macbeth” had actually started.
Illustrating the dangers of ambition and power, “Macbeth” portrays the spiral into madness of title character Macbeth, played by junior Sohan Vichare. When three witches tell Macbeth that he will become the King of Scotland, he is influenced to take whatever actions necessary to seize power. He and Lady Macbeth, played by senior Amruta Talwalkar, experience devastating psychological effects of guilt and lunacy as their political ambition grows out of control.
The play had a twist, however; Cupertino Actors’ Theatre modernized the show by setting it in the competitive tech bubble of Silicon Valley. Along with scratching the Elizabethan clothing and old fashioned backdrops, CAT altered some plot details to fit the play into the context of a tech company.
While the show featured intense scenes of violence and death, the actors, along with the creative backdrops and lighting techniques, successfully conveyed the dark tones of the piece. Sound effects like insistent knocking as Vichare frantically wiped blood from his hands skillfully illustrated his inner turmoil and panic. In addition, Talwalkar’s eerie and disturbing rendition of Lady Macbeth was altogether extremely well-done for such a complex character.
Contrasting the dark scenes were moments of witty humor. The audience laughed out loud as the Porter, played by junior Kayshav Prakash, drunkenly horsed around the stage. Other moments pulled the play back into the present, such as the addition of a pill bottle being offered to certain characters.
A highlight of the play was undoubtedly the costumes and makeup; characters walked through the audience with a spotlight illuminating the fake blood running down their faces. The actors carried out stunts and uttered piercing screams in all the fight scenes without a hitch. The placement of the fights — further from the stage and closer to the audience — allowed the spectators to feel in the moment of the terrifying scenes.
However, there were a few moments of confusion throughout the play. As the Cupertino Actors’ Theatre modernized “Macbeth” and related it to the Silicon Valley, there were times when the adaption did seem a bit forced. The parallels between the “Thane of Cawdor” and high ranking position in a tech company could have been made smoother, whether that be through adding context details or even additional program information. At the same time, the modern take brought a fresh perspective to a play that might otherwise have been written off by students as incomprehensible. Overall, the first showing of CAT’s “Macbeth” on Friday, March 24, was a whirlwind of moments of dark terror mixed with clever humor that captivated the audience to culminate in a successful show.
Those who may be dissuaded from watching the play due to its Shakespearean language can still find pleasure in its modern aspects. The bold addition of motorcycles helmets, cell phones, emoji masks and edgy music, composed by senior Jack Robinson, contrasted the old language of the show in an intriguingly unique style. For those who are looking for something new and complex, “Macbeth” is certainly the show to see. The last two showings are on Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1.
Tip: if you have never read or seen “Macbeth” before, be sure to read its synopsis.