For some odd reason, Lincoln Center Theater bills its latest event as “Shakespeare’s Macbeth.” (Perhaps that’s to discern it from “The Gershwins’ Macbeth”?) However LCT brands it, the thunderous Broadway revival that opened on Thursday is a long, loud and disappointing effort. A mumble-mouthed Macbeth, the usually charismatic Ethan Hawke is sadly engulfed by a dark, nightmarish production that affords him little opportunity to develop an arresting character.
Director Jack O’Brien’s concept casts the blame for Macbeth’s destructive behavior entirely upon the evil sorcery of the witches, who dominate the operatic staging. Macbeth is depicted as scarcely more than a puppet who is helplessly strung along by supernatural forces and simply goes straight to hell.
Designer Scott Pask provides a monumentally expressionist setting; all shifting blacks and greys with strategic spots of red. Dramatic shafts of light pierce the spooky atmospherics cooked up by designers Japhy Weideman (lighting) and Jeff Sugg (projections). This abstract environment accommodates the frequent and extended sorties of the witches created with cackling gusto by John Glover, Byron Jennings and Malcolm Gets, who are joined by Francesca Faridany’s Gaga-garbed Hecate and several scampering minions. They’re all a tad campy though entertaining in their wicked revelry.