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Review Roundup: "Macbeth" at Lincoln Center

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    NEWSLETTERS

    T. Charles Erickson
    Malcolm Gets, John Glover and Byron Jennings in a scene from the Lincoln Center Theater production of "Macbeth," directed by Jack O'Brien at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.

    Ethan Hawke and Anne-Marie Duff star as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of “Macbeth,” which opened Thursday at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.

    One of Shakespeare’s darkest tragedies, the Scottish play charts the horrific consequences that arise when the paranoid and power-hungry Macbeth sells his soul to become king.

    This new production is directed by Tony-winner Jack O’Brien (“The Nance,” “Hairspray”), with a powerhouse cast that includes Richard Easton as Duncan, Jonny Orsini as Malcolm and Daniel Sunjata as Macduff. Malcolm Gets, John Glover and Byron Jennings are the three witches, who garnered as much attention from reviewers as the leads. Here’s what the critics are saying.

    Ben Brantley, The New York Times: "As interpreted in this Lincoln Center Theater production, ‘Macbeth’ is the story of three Weird -- seriously weird -- Sisters, who get their kicks moving around and tearing up human beings like nasty little girls who decapitate their paper dolls. … Mr. Hawke delivers Shakespeare’s poetry like a moody, glue-sniffing teenager reciting Leonard Cohen lyrics to himself. … This ‘Macbeth’ could be regarded as a sort of evil twin to Julie Taymor’s more appropriately spectacle-driven ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ in which otherworldly forces manipulate worldly pawns.”

    Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly: “It's all about the witches in Lincoln Center Theater's new revival of ‘Macbeth.’ The Weird Sisters pull all the strings, popping up in minor roles and causing toil and trouble at every turn. … Hawke makes a very convincing (and wonderfully sleazy) Scottish king. … As Lady Macbeth, the sleepwalking, hand-washing, regicide-plotting woman behind the man, Anne-Marie Duff maintains a delicate balance between imperious and docile, sexy and demoralizing.”

    Linda Winer, Newsday: “When the theater announced that O'Brien would direct Hawke in ‘Macbeth,’ one may be forgiven for assuming they had an urgent reason to revisit the play that New York has seen so often in recent years. … As it turns out, that reason is not Hawke, who is oddly uncharismatic and too internalized to grab the spotlight. … In fact, the stars of this ‘Macbeth’ are the supernatural creatures whose presence dominates -- even overshadows -- all the mortals in a throbbing parallel universe of witches, Hecate the Queen Witch (a character often omitted) and an entourage of furry thingies that suggest a road company of ‘Cats.’”

    Jennifer Farrar, AP: “Director O'Brien has set the Scottish tragedy amid appropriately dark, ominously towering walls, on a pitch-black stage engraved with a pentagram and other magical symbols that reflect the extensive presence of sorcery. … Duff, making a triumphant American debut, is initially taut and steel-spined as Lady Macbeth hectors her malleable husband into murdering their king, then gamely tries to cover for her unstable spouse during a sumptuously staged banquet. … Hawke gives an equally impassioned performance, although his Macbeth is modern, introspective and boyish.”

    Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: “Hawke's Macbeth is deeply uncomfortable with his own love of power. … His is a tragic hero without drive; a protagonist who forgets whose name is on the marquee. … A fuller exploration of the pleasures, as well as the pain, of stepping over people can be found in the performance of Annie-Marie Duff; Duff wants all of it, you sense. … The show is never for a moment dull. The atmosphere is populist and adventurous.”

    “Macbeth,” through Jan. 12, 2014 at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, 150 W. 65th St. Tickets: $75-$135. Call 212-239-6200, or visit Telecharge.com or LCT.org.

    Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn