Reduxion Theatre's visually stunning 'Macbeth' is worthwhile, despite performance issues 

8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Reduxion Theatre
City Arts Center
3000 General Pershing

Reduxion Theatre kicks off its third season with another high-concept adaptation, this time of William Shakespeare's supernatural tale of murderous ambition, "Macbeth."

After winning a major victory for the King of Scotland, Macbeth and happens upon three witches who prophesize his ascension to the throne. Moved, Macbeth questions his loyalty to the king and, with the aid of his wife, begins a bloody rise to power.

Like many Reduxion shows, the setting for "Macbeth" has been shifted to appeal to a more modern audience; in this case, the 1970s during the Scottish Independence movement.

The update of the material works great, thanks in no small part to Jeffrey Meek's fantastic costume design, Matthew Ellis' inventive and brutal fight choreography and a punk-rock soundtrack.

In the title role, Joshua Koehn is fascinating to watch, bringing an interesting physicality and unhinged quality to bear, especially during darkest moments. But lack of enunciation made it difficult to understand him when he picked up the pace of his delivery, which at times edged more toward Shatnerian than Shakespearian.

As Lady Macbeth, Erika Sheffer delivers a performance that, while a little stilted, has a clarity that allows you to see to the heart of the character.

Ellis seems to be channel a fast-talking TV game show personality in his portrayal of King Duncan. As Macduff, he fairs better, nailing a particularly difficult emotional scene. He is perhaps at his best alongside Lane Flores as a pair of full-on punk assassins, hired by Macbeth to dispatch his former friend, Banquo, played by Madison Niederhauser in unquestionably the strongest performance.

A student at the University of Oklahoma, Niederhauser was devastatingly effective in supporting roles in Reduxion's 2009 production of "Antigone." He does such incredible work here, one wonders when Reduxion will cast him as a lead.

Two other OU students making strong impacts in brief turns are Lindsey Ruta as Lady Macduff, and Sean Hinckle, whose monologue serves as one of the few moments of levity. Reduxion regular Keri Fuller is saddled with too many roles to keep straight, five in all, but does good work as Macduff's son.

Played by Katie Lloyd, Sasha Kostyrko and Mao Yanagawa, the witches exhibit wonderful physical work, with movement designed to evoke both traditional Japanese theater as well as more contemporary Asian horror films, with the visuals to match. However, they deliver their lines through shrieks that render large portions of dialogue incomprehensible.

Still, "Macbeth" succeeds as spectacle, thanks to the vision of director Tyler Woods and the aforementioned costumes and set, along with the evocative lighting design by Angela Marks that clearly and elegantly delineated changes in time, location and mood on a mainly static stage.

"Macbeth" is reminiscent in some ways of Reduxion's 2008 production of "Romeo and Juliet": conceptually ambitious, visually stunning and ultimately worth seeing, but hampered by performance issues. Whereas accents undermined "Romeo," pacing of line deliveries and clarity hamper "Macbeth." "?Eric Webb

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