June 24, 2013

This is Not Shakespeare's Macbeth


Closing out NoExit Performance’s 2012/13 season is a unique 90 minute drama. Adapted and directed by Michael Burke, the show is a retelling of Macbeth, but instead of Scottish kings and a fight for the crown, our main characters are all patients in a mental hospital.

Using the existing eeriness of an old school that’s been transformed into an office complex, the production takes advantage of its location. As the audience makes its way into an old classroom and settles into the seats the patients are already stumbling around muttering to themselves. From that moment you know the title of the play, This Is Not Shakespeare’s Macbeth, is definitely true.


As the story unfolds we hear well-known lines like “Out damn spot” and “something wicked this way comes” being spoken from the mouths of nurses and mad men. Macbeth (Matthew Goodrich) is a semi-catatonic patient rambling nonsense when we first meet him. As he becomes the troubled murderer audiences have been fascinated with for centuries, we don’t know if what we’re seeing is happening only in his head or if it has already happened and he’s remembering it or if he’s committing the crime as we watch.

Georgeanna Smith is our Lady Macbeth in a nurse’s uniform. The manipulative femme fatale’s steely determination is laudable. In one scene we watch her struggle as she is literally being weighed down by her crimes. That moment, along with some others, are ominous and memorable scenes. Others are lost in the frantic nature of the show, highlighted by the ever-changing lighting which throws us from darkness into light every few minutes. The productions use of props is well done; much is accomplished with a simple sheet or flashlight.


The difficulty of the play is that original play of Macbeth is undeniably the story of one man’s guilt driving him mad. When you remake the show and Macbeth is crazy from the opening scene, where can you go from there? The man character is surrounded by insanity in the asylum and so watching his descent into madness is much less startling. If crazy is the norm, it’s not shocking when a character loses his mind. What makes his particular lunacy noteworthy among so many troubled souls?

Despite its struggles, the show offers a completely fresh look at Macbeth. As NoExit has done with past productions …Macbeth is something unique and daring. I’m excited to see more of their work in the upcoming 2013/14 season:

The Beast, the Lady, and the Sanguine Man – August 
Swan Lake – October
The Nutcracker – December
Richard III – February
Middletown – April
Venus – June

Don't Miss the Show

For more information about NoExit Performance, shows, times, and locations or ticket purchases, visit www.noexitperformance.org / email info@noexitperformance.org. This show is performed at the Irvington Office Center, 338 S. Arlington Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46219.

Performances: The show runs until June 29 and offers three performances a week; beginning at 8 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Tickets: To purchase tickets, (317) 258-2255. Prices range from $15 to $20. The show does not have an intermission.

Photos Courtesy of NoExit Performance.

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