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Review: Trinity Rep, Festival Ballet Present Vigorous Renditions Of Classic Masterpieces

Published
At Trinity Rep these nights a new version of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” continues. And this weekend Festival Ballet is presenting George Balanchine’s masterpiece “Serenade.” The Public’s Radio’s Bill Gale has taken a look at them both and likes what he’s seen.

At Trinity, right from the get-go there is no doubt that this version of “Macbeth” is going to be a rough and tumble affair.

In the great upstairs theater set, designer Michael McGarty has opened the entire structure. You can sit in your seats looking upward and see through all of the lights, all of the openings. It’s a splendid new look at an old building and lets you know that this revival of an oft-done play is going to be looked at differently.

Clearly, artistic director Curt Columbus decided to let us know that if things political in our own country, our own time, may seem rough and unclear, well, back hundreds of years, things really became angry, really became hard.

This “Macbeth” uses different ways of bringing both the 1600s and our time together. Actor’s clothing, for instance, runs from gorgeously gross and hairy all black and gray outfits to the casual dressing worn by many people these days.

This view of the old and the modern is carried out powerfully by a first-rate cast led by Trinity veteran Mauro Hantmen as Macbeth and a newcomer, Julia Atwood as Lady Macbeth.

He is a huge figure, loud and tough, a nasty man who does not release his own fears until it is too late. She is at once a beautiful young woman whose own inner truth is as cold and desperate as her husband’s.

The rest of the cast matches the couple’s drive, as the famous witches of this play’s center--Janice Duclos, Stephen Berenson and Jeanine Kane--are power makers all along. They are humorous and horrible, at once.

So is this Macbeth just perfect? Not quite. Once in a while it seems a little taken with itself. The necessity of having severed heads propped up as almost jokes rather than horrors goes too far.

But then, a masterpiece is not set up to be charming, is it? It’s much more a work of telling of a “sorry sight” as Shakespeare had Macbeth put it. And Trinity has shown all of that with vigor and insight.

You could also use words like vigor and insight to describe Festival Ballet’s performances coming up this weekend. I saw the rehearsal this week. One of the performances is George Balanchine’s Serenade. It’s a huge piece featuring 20 women and 6 men moving to Tchaikovsky’s wonderful “Serenade for Strings.” The company looked strong throughout the piece. Other works will have former Boston Ballet’s Yury Yanowsky showing “Smoke and Mirrors”, a different kind of dance about his wife giving birth. Also on is Festival’s resident choreographer’s Viktor Plotnikov’s “Coma”. The showing, particularly of the world-renowned “Serenade” seems a move forward for Festival Ballet.

Macbeth” continues at Trinity Rep through March 3rd. Festival Ballet is on through Sunday at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Bill Gale reviews the arts for The Public’s Radio.



Left to Right: Jeanine Kane, Janice Duclos, and Stephen Berenson as The Witches. By William Shakespeare. Directed by Curt Columbus. Set design by Michael McGarty, costume design by Andrew Jean, lighting design by Oona Curley, and sound design by Peter Sasha Hurowitz.
Left to Right: Jeanine Kane, Janice Duclos, and Stephen Berenson as The Witches. By William Shakespeare. Directed by Curt Columbus. Set design by Michael McGarty, costume design by Andrew Jean, lighting design by Oona Curley, and sound design by Peter Sasha Hurowitz.