Review: New World Shakespeare Company's Macbeth 

Sound design: It’s not often that it’s the make-or-break element in a theatrical production. But New World Shakespeare Company’s production of Macbeth feels like it’s being guided by someone who doesn’t realize we’re primarily there to hear the Bard’s words.

The familiar bloody story of the titular Scottish nobleman/war hero (Eric Leckman), his ambitious wife (Catherine McMillen) and their treacherous efforts to seize the throne gets a setting that’s not overtly modern, though handguns are employed and the director’s note suggests a post-apocalyptic milieu. The Leonardo’s theater space presents some logistical challenges, but the production makes the most of the space with some effective lighting and use of entrances and exits through the aisles.

But director Dru becomes inordinately fond of loud, ominous music cues—crunching metal guitar riffs, dissonant screeches—to underscore the play’s most violent moments. While it’s frustrating enough that the music feels like unnecessary underlining of moments that are inherently disturbing, at times it even drowns out the dialogue. And that’s saying nothing of the puzzling choice to set the ghostly Banquo-at-the-banquet scene to an instrumental version of “Stairway to Heaven.”

A few standout performances help elevate some unevenness within the massive cast; Leticia Minharo’s Banquo is particularly impressive, with Jeff Stinson’s fury-filled Macduff and Leckman’s increasingly power-mad Macbeth providing some great moments. The grim consequences of treachery do come through in this Macbeth—at least whenever you’re allowed to hear them.

New World Shakespeare Company
The Leonardo
209 E. 500 South
Through Nov. 3, see website for times

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