In reviews, as in all reporting, major pragmatic realities must be made known upfront. It is then necessary to convey right away that Daniele Scattina's Clan Macbeth is performed in Italian. This may well discourage those not conversant in that fluid and elegant language.
But you are urged, strongly urged, not to be discouraged. Because this is riveting, if not downright hypnotic, theater, and the beauty of the piece partially lies in the fact that the original play is so familiar, you will know what is going on - and even what is being said - with only the most fractional command of Italian in your arsenal. Scattina - who directs, plays the unfortunate Scots lord, and seems to have engineered the work itself - presents what, if a trendy description may be allowed, is deconstructed Shakespeare. Only Macbeth, his notorious wife, and a character known as the Joker people the stage, and they offer a nightmare/dream fugue of the rapidly moving classic. It is Macbeth both stripped down to the bones and beefed up, and the richness of Shakespeare's characters fully allows for the skewed and shifting perspectives. The production does what so many interpretations of Shakespeare try to do and don't quite pull off: it adds dimension. There is a wonderfully sensual relationship between the title couple, and you will wonder why the other Macbeth pairs you have seen have neglected this obvious and powerful element.
Here, too, are three actors with real presence and astonishing skill. Scattina's Macbeth perfectly brings together equal parts of enslavement to the little woman, gross ambition, and anguish. Marzia Tedeschi's Lady M is regal, earthy, and unrelenting; it is easy to imagine men of finer moral character than her husband's bowing to her primal beauty and savage confidence. And Romeo Cirelli's Joker, so vulnerable to being a questionable device, is sublime in movement and voice; he somehow plays the entire world of the play beneath the central duo. Is there a Fellini quality to him, and to the panther-like Tedeschi? Yes. But why not pay homage to one genius when interpreting another?
In short, this is a Macbeth of immense power, a grand opera distilled, and a reminder of why Shakespeare himself was so bewitched by Italy.
Clan Macbeth was performed as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival. For more on MITF productions, click here.