Hip Shot: Dateline: Macbeth


Remaining Performances:
Sunday, July 20 at 4:30 pm
Tuesday, July 22 at 6:45 pm
Thursday, July 24 at 9:45 pm
Saturday, July 26 at 1:30 pm

They say: Something wicked is coming to a tropical paradise. As the Kaanapali Players prepare their production of Macbeth, a tragedy mirroring Shakespeare's bloody script looms in the wings. As funny as it is macabre, Dateline: Macbeth goes TV mysteries one better.

Cara's Take: Quattro Gatti's production comes across as three separate plays: a well-spoken production of Macbeth, a bloody Grand Guignol commentary on the type of high profile cases covered by TV news magazines and certain cable channels, and a farce about a TV actor and his wife — a former actress herself — working with a community theater company. Separately, each has good moments and all of them have good performances. Together, though, they don't quite gel.

The framing device of a news reporter interviewing and commenting on a tragedy that has already occurred is the most problematic element. I kept wondering why Maui was chosen as a location rather than, say, a small town in Nebraska or rural New England. The reporter, played by Hugo Armstrong, uses some familiar tabloid TV shows to insinuate things which would get them prosecuted for libel if they were said outright and turned them up to eleven. The interview segments with Amy Frances Quint — Kate the actor's wife and Lady Macbeth — were a marvel of deadpan spin and brittle facades. On a technical note, these segments, which sometimes overlapped the live scenes, were often too loud to allow the other parts to be heard.

The play, written and produced by lead actor Andy Hopper, is at its funniest in the scenes with a Hollywood television actor of the early 90s trying to re-spark his career by performing live with a second rate community theater. Many of these moments are very funny, from the actor throwing his tag line, "Let's ride," into the middle of a Shakespeare scene, to a memorial scene featuring a ukulele and vocal by realtor and amateur actor Stephen (an outstanding moment in a very funny performance by Matthew Gunn Park), to Kate taking over as director and indulging every actor's suggestion, no matter how dumb.

The problem is that Shakespeare's words are strange and powerful, particularly in Macbeth, and the scenes which are played nearly straight with Shakespeare's language overwhelm the other elements. "The Scottish Play" is definitely a tragedy, and hearing some of the more disturbing lines kept me, at least, from finding some of the surrounding parts as funny as they might have been.

Overall, I'd like to see this again after some of the transition issues have been rethought. For right now, the performances are definitely worth the price of the ticket.

See it if: You like your comedy blacker than your coffee.

Skip it if: You want more traditional Shakespeare.