The Tragedy of Macbeth, as freely adapted by Chris Mangels at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, is an ambitious feat. Which is, of course, apropos of the play itself. Using filmed footage integrated with the on-stage action is a risky endeavor because so much can go wrong. But this incarnation of Macbeth’s dark drama is at its best when those moments sync up, which creates an eerie shift in perspective for the audience. Everything from the plays’ spectres to messengers to deceits are given a jarring view in Mangel’s timely adaptation.
The synchronized moments depend as heavily, however, on the capabilities of the live actors to time their speeches and body movements with the multimedia for greatest effect.
One that was particularly well-done on opening night was Mason Beltran Garcia’s delivery of Macbeth’s dagger soliloquy.
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation . . .
He speaks as he sees himself at his doorway through the security camera trained on his front-porch, like something out of The Purge. Except in this instance, he’s not at the door and not holding a dagger. Is what’s happening on the screen real? Is it an hallucination? Is it is warning from the spirit world? Or is it just fake news? What it is is a beautifully executed bit of horror that blends the Bard’s words with modern storytelling technology.
The production is peppered with such moments where the real-life actors standing full-blooded in the same room as the audience blend with an extended off-stage world through the camera lens, through the cell phone screen, and through to the world of half-known truths and half-felt horrors that may walk with our ambitions every day.
The Tragedy of Macbeth runs just one more weekend at College of the Sequoias in Visalia. Thursday, October 18th through Sunday, October 21st. Information and tickets here.