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Bloodier, Louder Version of 'Macbeth'

THEATER BEAT

November 24, 1995|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

"WARNING: This is a dirty, bloody show. Theatre of NOTE will not be held responsible for any dirt, blood, etc, that ends up on your clothing." For those who don't have a raincoat stowed in the trunk, be assured that the buckets o' blood that flow throughout this production remain roughly onstage, along with various newts, frogs and what look suspiciously like raw chicken innards.

No, this is not the road show of "The Night of the Living Dead," although the makeup might lead you to believe so. It's Shakespeare's dark and stormy--make that bloody--"Macbeth," now taken to a sanguinary new high (or low) by director Diane Robinson.

Designer Bill Eigenbrodt filled the theater floor with dirt (both the playing and the seating areas), with a sort of rough-hewn Celtic cross in the middle, on which most of the action transpires. It's a wild concept. But then, wildness rather than dramatic cohesion seems the point of this shrill evening.

Both director and cast mistake artifice for invention, hysteria for intensity, gore for more. To her credit, Robinson proceeds with the all-out passion of her convictions, as do her performers, who seldom walk when they can bolt, speak when they can shriek, or trust Shakespeare's words to do the work for them. If you possess the sense of dramatic irony that this production wholly lacks, you just may find this miracle of excess almost surrealistically campy--always egregious, but never boring.

\o7 * "Macbeth," Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Ends Dec. 16. $10-$12. (213) 856-8611. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

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