|Rick Davis and Virginia Olivieri|
Photo by Heather and Dana Butcher
Click here for more information on this production that runs through June 4th.
"..there’s something refreshing about seeing a basic, no-frills production of William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth as currently performed at Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre... like experiencing a faint echo of what audiences may have witnessed at London’s Globe ...With just a few recorded sound effects, such as thunder, a distant clanging bell, a trumpet fanfare, and some background nature sounds, you could close your eyes and simply listen, losing nothing in the narrative, though by doing so, in this case, you’d be missing the sight of four extremely good, expressive performances. Desert Stages’ Actor’s Cafe... creates an atmosphere of intimacy not always afforded audiences in regular theatres; no matter where you sit, everyone in the house has a close-up view of the actors. ...Special mention, though, to J. Kevin Tallent for conveying Shakespeare’s intended brief moment of levity with Porter, the keeper of the keys to Macbeth’s home, speaking as though he’s the gatekeeper to hell – which, in fact, he is – and the actor’s ability to recreate a different performance as Lady Macbeth’s concerned doctor. The three weird sisters, the witches, are also effective... Megan Holcomb, Autumn Alton and Diana Meyer, nicely convey a sense of glee with their evil...Jason Barth and Bryan N. Stewart as Banquo and Macduff respectively posses natural qualities in their delivery that makes their performances both convincing and likable, plus Virginia Olivieri’s Lady Macbeth captures her character’s lustful ambition without ever overstepping into histrionics. With the gritting of teeth and the look of fire behind her eyes, her character’s single-minded, power hungry determination is effectively funneled in the same way that her callous nature is exposed....Guilt emerges and causes madness, illustrated in the sleepwalking scene where the blood that was washed away with water in the first half is now a permanent, symbolic stain that can’t be removed in the second. Olivieri convinces when expressing the determination as well as the guilt-induced madness.But this is Rick Davis’ play. As Macbeth, Davis conveys the Scottish nobleman’s initial friendly nature, then his puzzled, introspective reasoning, his developing and dangerous self-absorbed manner, and finally his complete embracement of his spiraling descent into an unyielding, murderous lust, from which he can never return. It’s a significant performance on any level, but seen in such an intimate setting as Actor’s Cafe, there’s never a chance to escape the spell Davis casts....It’s a spellbound audience who, in an otherwise bare-bones production, can’t turn away." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)
".William Shakespeare's Macbeth is receiving a daring, bare bones production from Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre that features lead performances filled with fire and forceful passion. ...even more forceful in the small DST space. Rick Davis and Virginia Olivieri are delivering some of the best work I've ever seen them do as the murderous duo....the entire cast is completely invested in the plot, their characters, and most importantly their dialogue. While there may be a few, slight hiccups with the line delivery of a couple of ensemble members, no one is simply reciting words without understanding what they mean....Rick Davis and Virginia Olivieri deliver searing and soaring portrayals of this deadly twosome. Davis is simply sensational as Macbeth in a performance of subtlety and depth. ... Olivieri projects a nice stoic counterbalance to Davis' more expressive performance. ...She and Davis work well together, expertly feeding off of each other as they show the couple's constantly shifting power struggle. ...But the control of the power shifts once the killing starts and the impact of the deaths chips away at Lady Macbeth's exterior. This culminates in a stunning sleepwalking scene where Olivieri's overcome nature, obsessive gestures, and darting eyes form a heartbreaking picture of this woman who feverishly tries to wash her hands clean of the blood of the people they've killed...Jason Barth... is eerily unnerving as Banquo's ghost. Bryan N. Stewart is full of power and determination as Macduff...and J. Kevin Tallent portrays several small parts with a chameleon-like grace...The sheer beauty and power of Macbeth is in how Shakespeare's words show how ambition and deceit ultimately consume two individuals. DST's production may be sleek but it is extremely effective and incredibly powerful with especially riveting performances. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)