Brooklyn is overrun with the Scottish play! • Brooklyn Paper

Brooklyn is overrun with the Scottish play!

Witch way: Elisabeth Preston, Paul Molnar, and Corey Tazmania play the three witches in South Brooklyn Shakespeare’s production of “Macbeth,” opening on July 29.
Photo by Jason Speakman

They’ve doubled double the toil and trouble!

Four different theater companies will take on Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” in Brooklyn over the next month. The bloody tragedy about an ambitious Scottish general who murders his king and seizes the throne is popular with audiences, so it makes sense to stage it in the county of Kings hereafter, said the co-producer of one version.

“We’re in our fifth season, and we wanted to start out doing some of the hits,” said Paul Molnar, of South Brooklyn Shakespeare. “Macbeth seems a perfect fit, you have the supernatural, big fights, blood, and all the darkness that leads eventually to Macbeth’s fall.”

“Personally, it’s one of my favorite plays,” he added. “The fact that it’s happening a lot is not surprising, but to have four companies doing it is quite a coincidence.”

South Brooklyn Shakespeare is sponsored by the Park Slope bar South, which Molnar owns with his wife Dee Byrd-Molnar, who is directing the play. The group will premiere the tragedy on a stage in front of the bar, as part of the Fifth Avenue Summer Stroll. The actors will be costumed to evoke the 1970s, but will still carry swords to allow for the exciting fight scenes, and the show will bring its Stonehenge-esque sets to the Old Stone House for a follow-up run the next week.

Pretty in plaid: The actors of New York Classical Theatre’s “Macbeth” will wear traditional Scottish kilts and wield giant swords while tromping around Brooklyn Bridge Park on Aug. 22–27.
Miranda Arden

South Brooklyn Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” outside South (629 Fifth Ave. between 17th and 18th streets in Park Slope, www.southbrooklynshakespeare.com). July 29 at 6:30 pm. Free.

“Macbeth” at the Old Stone House (336 Third St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope). Aug. 2–5 at 8 pm. Free.

An hour upon the stage

The Brick Theater’s “Shakespare in the Theater” festival, running for most of August, includes two non-traditional adaptations of the Scottish Play.

“Macbeth: Thrice and Once,” is a stripped-down, one-hour version with three actors playing all the parts. Director J.W. Randall, who lives in Bushwick, adapted the show so that it can travel to schools, community centers, and prisons, with costumes and a set that can all fit in a suitcase. His version emphasizes the existential themes of the play, but also gives it a light touch, with the Porter’s comic monologue turned into a series of vaudeville-style knock-knock jokes.

“We use a lot of farce,” said Randall. “We’re using a lot of ritual, and a lot of vaudeville to tell this story.”

Is this a dagger I see before me? No, that’s a sword: South Brooklyn Shakespeare’s co-producer Paul Molnar choreographed the fight scenes between Macbeth (John Bergdah, left) and MacDuff (Michael Irishare).
Photo by Jason Speakman

“Macbeth: Thrice and Once” at the Brick (575 Metropolitan Ave. between Union and Lorimer streets in Williamsburg, (718) 907–6189, www.bricktheater.com). Aug. 2 at 9:15 pm; Aug. 4 at 9:30 pm; Aug. 8 at 7 pm.

Something wicked

Another show at the Brick, “Macbeth: a Walking Shadow” goes in the opposite direction, drawing on the conventions of horror movies to present an especially bloody version of the tale of kings, witches, and murder.

“Macbeth: A Walking Shadow” at the Brick (575 Metropolitan Ave. between Union and Lorimer streets in Williamsburg, (718) 907–6189, www.bricktheater.com). Aug. 15 at 7 pm; Aug. 18 at 8:30 pm; Aug. 23 at 7 pm.

The use of nature

Rounding out the month is an outdoor production from the New York Classical Theatre. Actors dressed in Elizabethan garb will scamper across Brooklyn Bridge Park during the show, turning the Harbor View Lawn into the blasted Scottish heath and the upland trees into Birnam Wood, while audiences trail behind.

New York Classical Theatre’s “Macbeth” at Fulton Ferry Landing (Furman Street and Old Fulton Street in Dumbo, www.newyorkclassical.org). Aug. 22–23, 25–27 at 7 pm. Free.

Three’s a crowd: The adaptation “Macbeth: Thrice and Once,” opening at the Brick Theater on Aug. 2, uses just three actors to tell the story of the murderous king.
Walter Wlodarczyk

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.

More from Around New York