This is by far the very worst Macbeth ever performed. It didn’t help that The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society produced this fiasco. This group of women even brought in theatre expert George Peach (Jim Clevenger) to give his expert opinion. Not only that; they required him to perform in drag. Good grief! Their casting was abysmal. Being a woman’s club they were short of men so they cast goateed Henry (Steve Stetak). Alas, they cast him in a prominent female role.
Thank you Patio Playhouse and director Rob Wolter for bringing The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of “Macbeth,” -by playwrights David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin, Jr., to Escondido. It’s silly, it’s funny, it’s inane, and it defies being put into one comedic genre.
Mrs. Reece (Miranda Porter), the high mucky muck of the society, was hustling her actors and the audience prior to curtain. She got this writer to buy raffle tickets for a jar of marmalade (at least that’s what I think it is). Yes, I won. Mr. Peach tried to abscond with it. Untrustworthy lot, the both of them! Fortunately a couple of the club members had some semblance of acting skills. Felicity Walker (Karen Spafford) had some moments of believability. Mighty Minnie (Catharine Bock) valiantly gave it her all, but the no-talent others were constantly upstaging her. One of her credits is Shogun Macbeth. Fortunately she has done one Shakespeare play that wasn’t a take-off.
Dawn, Kate, and Thelma (Vesta Gleissner, Tiffany Paster, and Linda Claudius) do everything possible to destroy the bard’s work. They have a high success rate. Finally, there is Plummer (Rob Wolter), who has to be the most frustrated member of the troupe.
For one hour and 45 minutes the cast destroyed Shakespeare to perfection. The audience is in almost constant laughter, which is not particularly beneficial to one’s sides. Somehow, and I never did figure it out, they managed to include Frank Sinatra’s “Black Magic” as the witches danced about the cauldron (well, actually a 55-gallon drum). “Double, double, toil, and trouble” will always have a new meaning for me after this experience.
Costume Designer Miranda Porter teamed with Teri Porter and Caro Louise to create some quite authentic costumes as well as some totally outlandish designs. Tiffany Paster created some delightful choreography in keeping with the humor of the production. David Farlow’s sound design, as well as Rob Wolter’s lighting design, added immensely to the overall disastrous effect.
The staging deserves a special commendation. As you enter the theatre you are immediately confronted with a rather strange show curtain completely hiding the set. After Mrs. Reece’s opening remarks, problems with the lighting and just about everything else, the curtain opens, revealing the back of the set. The show begins when it is finally brought to somebody’s attention that the set is facing the wrong way. Again, Mrs. Reece regales us with some nonsense while the set is turned around. They reconstructed the set in short order and that ladies version of Macbeth restarted.
The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of “Macbeth” assaults and amuses. It is silly fun, just the right sort of thing for a summer Sunday afternoon. It is definitely a crowd pleaser. For the Shakespeare aficionado there are many totally inside bits challenging your knowledge of his words and his plays.
Catharine Bock, Linda Claudius, Jim Clevenger, Vesta Gleissner, Tiffany Paster, Miranda Porter, Karen Spafford, Steve Stetak, Rob Wolter
Producer Jim Clevenger, AD Kelli Harless, SM/Set & Lighting Designer Rob Wolter, Sound Designer David Farlow, Costume Designer Miranda Porter, Tech Michael Valadez
Total Rating: Two and half stars
Author: David McGillivray & Walter Zerlin Jr.
Director: Rob Wolter
Date Reviewed: July 20, 2008
Dates: Weekends thru August 3, 2008
Running Time: 105 minutes with a 15-minute intermission
Patio Playhouse Community Theatre
201 East Grand
Box Office Phone: 760 746-6669