By SAMANTHA WHITE, Special to The Oakland Press
“Knock, knock, who’s there?”
Common phrases like this from “Macbeth” have resonated with generations for hundreds of years — phrases coined by the English language’s most-widely published author, William Shakespeare.
Wayne State University’s The Hilberry Theatre honors that legacy by bringing “Macbeth” to the stage as its season opener.
In addition, to the language and phrases that have transcended time, “Macbeth” was also one of Shakespeare’s most profound works, as he examined mental health before the word “psychology” even existed. He was able to dial into the human experience. That is why theaters all over the world still love to showcase his work.
And what a great job Hilberry did at re-creating “Macbeth” with this magnificent production.
“Macbeth,” played by Miles Boucher, is a Scottish nobleman who kills King Duncan, played by Brandy Joe Plambeck, and rules the country until he is killed in vengeance for his misdeeds.
Boucher is great as the lead character. He’s strong. He’s gullible – Lady Macbeth clearly wears the pants. His acting chops take center stage once Macbeth becomes mad and paranoid. He seems comfortable and natural from his physicality to his use of Shakespeare’s language.
The star of this production, however, is the incredible Annie Keris as Lady Macbeth. Her portrayal as Macbeth’s confidant, lover, wife and co-conspirator is simply brilliant. She takes Shakespeare’s language and wraps it around her fingers to deliver a ferocious performance that would have made The Bard himself quiver.
Brent Griffith is another standout in this production. One of the most intense moments of the play comes when his character, Macduff, learns his entire family has been murdered. He pounds his chest as he takes in the news. Every blow sent an aching sensation through each member of the audience on opening weekend.
The beautiful set and lighting design manages to be sparse and robust – it has the perfect amount of melancholy from the three heads of dead men that morbidly watch over the audience to the effective lighting design, which places us in the midst of Macbeth’s paranoid visions.
The production was directed by Paul Mason Barnes – a guest director whose national credits include other Shakespeare classics, “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Comedy of Errors” and “Twelfth Night.”
Barnes makesThe Hilberry production of “Macbeth” accessible for Shakespearean connoisseurs and new theater patrons alike through vivid images and coherent speech.
Last and certainly not least, the witches of “Macbeth” who stir the pot – literally and otherwise. The three creepy, mysterious creatures who predict Macbeth’s kingship are played by Danielle Cochrane, Sarah Hawkins Moan and Megan Barbour with the perfect pitch of ominousness.
The beauty of Shakespeare is that despite the change in wardrobe today and the difference in language, his themes still run to the heart of humankind – the elements of who we are. The Hilberry cast has managed to do that with a production that is engaging and entertaining.
“Macbeth” is playing now through Oct. 12 at 4743 Cass Ave. in Detroit. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday with an additional matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. Tickets are $12-$30. For more information visit http://www.Hilberry.com or call 313-577-2972.