Macbeth at Coronado Playhouse

Coronado Playhouse
Coronado Playhouse, a beautiful venue.

I took the family to see Macbeth at Coronado Playhouse, a wonderful community theatre on the water. Coronado Playhouse puts on one free classic show every year, usually Shakespeare since it’s in the public domain, and we’ve attended almost every year since the kids were in grade school.

Macbeth program cover
Macbeth was Coronado Playhouse’s 22nd annual free classic play.

Season ticket holders can reserve seats, otherwise seating is first come first seated so it’s worth arriving early. We were the first general admissions, and scored great seats at a table smack in the middle: perfect!

Desha Crownover, a home-grown director and playwright, directed Macbeth. Set designer Jacob Sampson created a spectacularly minimalist stage, a la Cheek by Jowl, with long clear plastic strips hanging down and long raw lumber standing on end upon the bare stage floor. I liked how the man-made and the natural were separate but together, plus you just knew that wood would be moving in Act 5. Strewn across the floor were large pieces of white gauze, which rose up on sticks to become the three witches when animated and voiced by nine actors, three per witch. They were by far the most effective stage witches I’ve ever seen. There were also three movable pillars and extensive use of translucent screens so certain key scenes took place in tightly choreographed shadow play, with the occasional assistance of red gore splashed across the plastic sheets. The dagger scene was rendered in half life half shadow play, so the dagger appeared only in Macbeth’s mind and in shadow.

Samuel Young played a very human, basically good Macbeth. He was a refreshing change from the high-power renditions I’ve seen before, and made Macbeth much more relatable. His “tomorrow” soliloquy was pitched with intimate sadness as he reflected on his wife’s death, his life, and his own eventual mortality. Young was paired with Erin Petersen as a crystalline Lady Macbeth, at once harder than Macbeth himself and more fragile. They offered a nuanced view of their relationship; she was less the evil grasping power behind Macbeth and more the lovingly supportive spur at which urging he took the first step into darkness.

It’s been said that the Macbeths are one of the very few functional couples in Shakespeare, and this Macbeth focused on the human side of making choices within that relationship. One key, silent, moment came at the end of 3.4, after the disastrous banquet, when Macbeth reached out to his wife and she just rose and walked offstage. To me, that felt like the final turning point.

Other things I especially liked: the use of broad swaths of monocolored mood lighting, and the delightfully sozzled Porter, played by Martin White, who was Prospero in the very first CPH production we’d taken the kids to see. I liked how this production divided the play at the banquet, with Banquo’s ghost present at the end of the first half, but not at the four- or five-line reprise at the beginning of the second.

Just another perfect day in San Diego.

What a great day out: warm blue skies, sailboats on the water, and Macbeth in the theatre!

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