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Theater Review : The Fog Never Clears in CRC's 'Macbeth'


LONG BEACH — "Macbeth" has the reputation in theatrical circles as an unlucky play. Actors call it "The Scottish Play" so as not to call down upon themselves the curse associated with uttering the proper name of this brutal, haunted story of ambition run amok.

It has been blamed for onstage deaths, hauntings and all manner of ill fortune. It is acknowledged as a play of tremendous power: to quote it in the dressing room is to invite disaster.

California Repertory Company's production desperately attempts to conjure up some of this malevolent majesty by pouring dry-ice fog onto the stage and underscoring the entire play with atmospheric music. But dime-store creepiness is no substitute for storytelling.

Under Ronald Allan-Lindblom's direction, CRC's "Macbeth" is virtually unintelligible. The text is rattled off at such a rate that it frequently sounds like a completely foreign language. The emotional side of the drama is eviscerated by Jamieson Price's one-dimensional performance as Macbeth.

The whole production seems to say, "We know you know this story, so we'll just get on with it as quickly as possible." Only the glimpses of passion in Penelope Miller-Lindblom's passionate Lady Macbeth relieve the boredom significantly.

Blake Steury, Greg Mortensen and Armando Jose Duran have some good moments, too, but if you don't know the story going in, you will be hard pressed to figure out how they fit into it.

Don Gruber's imposing set of relentless, hard-angled gray and the Celtic-flavored witches--Susan Scudder, Teresa Dowell and Susannah MacAdams--work what spells they can. But the black magic of this "Macbeth" never leaves the dressing room.

* "Macbeth," Studio Theatre at Cal State Long Beach, West Campus Drive at 7th Street, Long Beach. 8 p.m. Closes tonight. $15. (310) 985-7000. Running time: 2 hours.

Steve McCue: Duncan and Siward

Jamieson Price: Macbeth

Blake Steury: Malcolm

Greg Mortensen: Banquo

Armando Jose Duran: Macduff

Richard Perloff: Ross

Pete Regan: Porter, Lennox and Murderer

K.C. Crowe: Seyton

Kent Miller: Doctor and Murderer

Karen Burns: Attendant

Penelope Miller-Lindblom: Lady Macbeth

Gena Acosta: Lady Macduff

Susan Scudder, Teresa Dowell, Susannah MacAdams: Witches

A California Repertory Company production. Written by William Shakespeare. Directed by Ronald Allan-Lindblom. Costumes: Liz Hubner. Set and lights: Don Gruber. Sound: Corey B. Holst. Production manager: Daniel C. Touris.

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