It is the dinner party from hell. Or in hell, at least.
“The Witches,” a new play at Court Tree Collective in Carroll Gardens, combines an original twist on Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” with a homey dining experience. The audience is lulled with dinner party pleasantries before being plunged into the tragedy, an actress from the production explained.
“People come in and chat, they dine, and then it turns nightmarish,” said Giverny Petitmermet, one of the play’s four cast members. “I don’t want to give anything away, but it doesn’t start how you would expect it to start.”
The eponymous witches find a deceased Macbeth in hell, where his punishment is to relive and re-watch the tragic events that led him to his fiery eternity. The three witches take on every role in the play — including Macbeth — while Macbeth watches in anguish as his evil deeds play out again in front of him. Many of the original play’s events take place at Macbeth’s orders, so when the fictional King of Scotland watches the death and destruction he wrought, it is through new eyes.
“Macbeth is stuck in the middle of it and unable to leave,” Petitmermet said. “In the play, he doesn’t see Lady Macbeth being killed, but we made it so he is forced to replay it and relive it and all of the madness that comes with it.”
It is a novel interpretation of the Scottish Play, but “The Witches” stays true to the Bard, even as the show flips the traditional presentation of “Macbeth” on its head. From the start of the production, every line is straight from the original script. Petitmermet describes herself and her colleagues as “huge Shakespeare nerds,” stressing that while the story has been cut down and reduced, they took pains to ensure the words conveyed their original meaning — even making sure to preserve the iambic pentameter rhythm for which Shakespeare is known.
Amidst the usual glut of summer Shakespeare productions, Petitmermet said the troupe wanted to differentiate “The Witches” from other reinterpretations. By putting the witches at center stage as they torment Macbeth, the show explores the dynamic of women having power over a man, she said.
“We thought how interesting it would be, three women torturing a man,” Petitmermet said. “There is definitely something of a horrible middle-school girl mentality to it. The witches are having a great time and Macbeth absolutely is not.”
“The Witches” at Court Tree Collective [371 Court St. between Carroll Street and First Place, (718) 422–7806, www.thewitchesdinner.com]. Aug. 17–18 and 24–25 at 8 pm. $18.