Imaginative student score, incredible dystopian set/costume design illuminate compelling performances in Stone Bridge’s unique take on ‘Macbeth’

December 18, 2013

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Maddie Clark, a student at Loudoun Valley High School , reviews Stone Bridge High School’s ‘Macbeth’ as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

Macbeth is known to the theater world as a “cursed” play, one to not be mentioned at any cost. Stone Bridge High School’s production of “the Scottish play”, however, was anything but.

Considered William Shakespeare’s darkest and most tragic play, Macbeth utilizes themes such as the corrosiveness of power and the psychological damage that can follow it. While the play was originally written in the early 1600s, it fits surprisingly well in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, as potently portrayed by Stone Bridge. The year is 2068, all of the world’s oil has been used, major governments are no more, a vast majority of the world’s population is dead, and those left have resorted to a medieval village system of living. Queen Duncan’s (Jamie Arians) village in southern Appalachia is in the midst of a prosperous and peaceful time at the start of the production. The well-known, albeit modernized, story of Macbeth follows, completed with nuclear-hoarding rebels and witches chanting over a bubbling nuclear waste can.

Lord and Lady Macbeth, played by Ryan Bateman and Elizabeth Morton respectively, had a wonderfully dramatic decline into paranoia and insanity. Both were dynamic in their characterization of the vicious, tyrannical, and power hungry alpha personalities. Lord MacDuff (Ian Peterson) was amazingly powerful, especially in the scene the deaths of his wife and child are revealed to him. Lady Banquo (Sierra Carlson) was portrayed wonderfully in a traditional male part; she was exciting and energetic, and the camaraderie between her and Macbeth, which is crucial to his mental deterioration, was invariably present.

The delightful ensemble, composed of three different groups, was equally as exciting and dramatic as the leads. The weird sisters stood out immediately. Comprised of three witches (Aliya Qureshi, Emma Strong, and Gretchen Dunne), each with her own distinct personality and mannerism, were the perfect mix of captivating, ominous, enchanting and sinister. Duncan’s army, a ragtag group of fighters, was equally terrific in its physical mannerisms. This was especially evident in the beautifully choreographed fight scenes. The effervescent final battle was awe inspiring, despite a minimal lack of character motivation.

While the production was spectacular, the music was even better. Composed by senior Adam Weiss, the pre-recorded mood music stole the attention of the entire audience. It perfectly mixed the chaotic and synthesized atmosphere of a modern apocalyptic setting with the folksy charm of simple Appalachian melodies, all while paying tribute to the original Scottish heritage of the show.  In fact, the sound design as a whole was extremely pleasing--noticed for all the right reasons. The daunting task of managing 15 wireless mics, recorded music, and a plethora of sound effects was pulled off without a hitch.

A magnificent entwining of a dystopian setting and a famously dark and twisted story, Stone Bridge High School delighted enthralled audiences with a terrifyingly powerful production, bringing fresh life to the wicked and ominous story written by Shakespeare hundreds of years ago. 

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