Macbeth is tense, involving; Acis and Galatea splendid
By William Shakespeare.
The MIT Project for
Summer Student Theater.
Directed by Joe Vanderway '89.
Starring Derek Herrera '92
and Debbie Wells '92.
Killian Hall, August 3-5.
ACIS AND GALATEA
The MIT Summer Opera.
Steven McDonald, Artistic Director.
With Jean Danton, Martin Kelly and
Killian Hall, July.
By JONATHAN RICHMOND
JOE VANDERWAY drafted a tense and involving Macbeth out of the summer ethers. True, it started a bit slowly, but as the plot advanced so too did the drama.
Killian Hall was chosen as venue for the production, and it was ingeniously transformed into an intimate theater space -- the audience forming an arc lengthwise -- and well-focused on the action happening just a few feet away. There was no shortage of audience: The show sold out on its final scheduled night, and the lines of disappointed theatergoers were so long that an extra show was put on the following day.
If the Shakespeare-thirsty crowds thought they were going to escape the midsummer's heat outside, they hadn't reckoned with the likes of the Lady Macbeth of Debbie Wells '92. No lady to mess with, Wells made Lady Macbeth a figure of icy, calculating authority from the word go. Nicely acted, and quite deliciously evil.
Talking of evil, the witches brewed up a pretty potent potion, too. Jill Bidgood,
in particular, had a larger-than-life stage presence, while the sensuously slinky body of Elisa Duggan '93 left no doubt as to the nature of the powers propelling it into action.
Harry Teplitz '91 was Macbeth, and took a bit of time to really warm up. But as the end drew near, he took the audience for a gripping tour of the protagonist's psyche, the increasing dementia of the character invading every nook and cranny of the house.
As to the rest of the cast, all gave performances which were adequate, despite a number of weaknesses. The action occasionally came apart, but it was invariably quickly glued together again, Vanderway cranking the tension to leave all with a great summer evening's entertainment, as well as enough material for sleep-destroying nightmares for a good many more nights to come. Well done: Let's have more theater like this in Killian Hall.
THE MIT SUMMER OPERA is a new institution, and long may it live, along with renewed interest in opera at MIT in general. Artistic director Steven McDonald started his venture with Handel's Acis and Galatea which, in brief, tells the story of how the giant Polyphemus gets jealous of the joys of Acis with Galatea and strikes him dead. Acis becomes immortal, though, transformed into an ever-flowing fountain.
Handel's music is wonderful, and McDonald presented it splendidly, if possibly a bit rapidly. Jean Danton, as Galatea, was the best of the singers, contributing some very pretty, nicely-nuanced, and also poignant singing. Her "Must I My Acis Bemoan" was quite inspired.
David Stoneman stood tall as Polyphemus, singing affectingly enough at times to briefly get us on the giant's side. Martin Kelly had a few rough edges as Acis -- his is not a lyrical voice -- but he too had his eloquent moments. The choral parts were done nicely, and the band produced sufficient oomph to propel the show along. Let's have more next summer. And during the school year too, please.