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THEATER REVIEW: “Macbeth”

Nothing provides drama quite like political ambition and its frequent handmaidens treachery, assassination and usurpation, and Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” provides all that in spades – along with a trio of witches whose strange prophecies spark the death, madness and destruction to follow.

Intrepid Shakespeare Company offers a grim glimpse into the dark night of ambition’s soul in its version of The Scottish Play through Feb. 16.

Sean Cox, Intrepid’s co-artistic director, plays the general who writes his wife on the way home from the war that three disheveled “weird sisters” (Savvy Scopelleti, Tiffany Tang, Erin Petersen, who live up to their name) prophesied that he would become Scotland’s king – and that his colleague, general Banquo (Francis Gercke), would be father to kings.

Reading this, Lady Macbeth (Sandy Campbell) – no stranger to ambition – becomes almost giddy as she begins to concoct the treasonous plot that will ensnare them all.

“Macbeth” is the first Shakespeare play many American students study, and with good reason. Ghosts, murder, witches, madness, walking trees – what’s not to like?

But more than a scary ghost story, it’s a cautionary tale about the corrosive effect of ambition on a personality and a marriage.

Intrepid’s witches, about as other-worldly as I’ve seen, have a curious habit of collapsing in a heap from time to time (the exhaustion of prophecy?). But it’s their words (misinterpreted by Macbeth) that will lead to the best scene – the banquet haunted by the bloody ghost of Banquo (seen only by Macbeth), and then on to Macbeth’s psychic disintegration and eventual destruction.

Director (and Intrepid co-artistic director) Christy Yael-Cox has a fine cast here. Cox’s mad scene and Campbell’s futile attempts to get the blood off her hands are chilling.

Gercke’s Banquo is excellent (especially in the banquet scene), as are Patrick Duffy as Macduff, Danny Campbell as the short-lived King Duncan, Rin Ehlers as Lady Macduff and Brian Rickel as the king’s son Malcolm.

Blood, guts, ghosts, insanity and evil. “Macbeth” has it all.

The details

“Macbeth” plays through Feb. 16 at Intrepid Shakespeare Company, at the Clayton E. Liggett Theatre, 800 Santa Fe Drive in Encinitas (on campus of San Dieguito Academy).

Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 and 7 pm.

Tickets: (800) 718-4253 or HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.