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Sacramento’s Capital Stage Offers A Post-Apocalyptic Take On MacBeth

By Lacey M. Carroll
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From left, Jessica Chisum, Janis Stevens, Scott Coopwood and Shaun Carroll. Photo courtesy of Charr Crail

From left, Jessica Chisum, Janis Stevens, Scott Coopwood and Shaun Carroll. Photo courtesy of Charr Crail

In this fresh interpretation by Capital Stage of ‘The Scottish Play,’ Director Stephanie Gularte transports the audience from 11th-century Royal Scotland to a Mad-Maxian post-apocalyptic world, 13 years after a global war. Donning crude weapons, tattered clothing and rudimentary armor, the characters and their relationships remain mostly untouched. Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy is often overdone with props, effects and elaborate scenery. Capital Stage strips down to get this classically creepy tale across.

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Scott Coopwood and Janis Stevens. Photo courtesy of Charr Crail

Scott Coopwood’s commitment to his Macbeth is refreshing to see, and his fellow actors rise to meet his enthusiasm for the role. Captivating the audience with his intensity, Coopwood doesn’t slow down playing the role as more defeated than gullible as he is lured into his power-hungry wife’s plans. However, the infamous struggle within Macbeth between his ambition and his sense of right and wrong has slightly more impact in the prim and proper world of royalty than in an already chaotic post-apocalyptic setting.

Pairing well with Coopwood’s Macbeth is Janis Stevens’ Lady Macbeth. A veteran with the Capital Stage, the actress finds firm footing from her first line—“They met me in the day of success”—and powers through to her last. The Macbeths’ downward spiral is both powerful and emotionally-charged as Steven’s Lady Macbeth tempts and beguiles her husband into the power struggle that will eventually be their ruin. Her ability to command this powerful role is well met with the supporting cast including Jessica Chisum in the unlikely role of Banquo which is historically a male character and Lady Macduff. Chisum doesn’t miss a beat in either role and is capable of a blood curdling scream worthy of a classic horror film. Other stand outs are Shaun Carroll and Dan Fagan.

Not to be overlooked is the eerily bone-chilling sound design by Ed Lee. Unsettling noises surround the audience in the most tense moments of the performance making for an effective spine-tingling experience. Clad in gas masks and being accompanied by shrill robotic voices, the witches are undoubtedly more unnerving. While video projections by Benjamin T. Ismail are flashed across the backdrop for an inner look at Macbeth’s crumbling psyche.

Expect more action and a bit of gore with this Macbeth as the open stage allows for the actors to create fight scenes that utilize the exits and entrances as well. Macbeth will run through Nov. 24 at the Capital Stage Theatre located 2215 J St. in Midtown Sacramento.

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