(photo credit: Richard Leverton)
Humber River offers all the atmosphere you need for their Macbeth
by William Huff
It’s not easy to admit a life-long mastery of a design and fabrication that has enabled me to, among other things, build sets for productions with seemingly unlimited budgets, that now feels of little worth in light of experiencing this wonderful production of Macbeth.
Yet, as I sat there, I found myself transfixed, transported, and desperately clinging to my remaining hope and dreams of being a successful writer, producer --- and, ultimately --- storyteller, much like this magnificent ensemble and staff.
Much like Shakespeare himself, few could step up to it, let alone, conquer such a challenge --- and conquest, surely being the best term, is what we have here.
The Humber River Production Company’s players not only do so, but, quite remarkably, and mind you, not one character in Shakespeare’s Macbeth is easy to play, yet these actors, these brave souls, not only do so, and very well at that, but they, with one exception, played multiple characters, at that level.
I must admit that from the very first moments, where the three witches started with a haunting, a cappella melody - each an exquisite voice, led by the appropriately beautiful harmony of Kanika Ambrose - I felt time itself step backwards as I, and curiously, many others had earlier wandered the exquisitely beautiful, yet empty of personnel or signage as to where to go, corridors, numerous stairways, and multi-directional byways of The Old Mill Inn, somewhat desperately, in search of the venue --- fearful of being late. Yet, there, again, ominously, in fact, at the very beginning of the production, I felt the witches’ haunting melody actually overlay itself over the fresh memory of wandering throughout the inn, an experience I don’t recall having before --- and honestly, quite wonderful .
As the production quickly progressed, the skill of the cast was immediately apparent. Their mastery of the long Shakespearian passages was masterful, and but for a few props, costume and set components, the magic of their abilities alone, catapulted us into Shakespeare’s world of passion and torment.
If pressed, ultimately, much like picking from a bowl of precious jewels, as to whom made the most impression on me, it would easily be Shannon Currie’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth. To look into her eyes, to follow the both tortuous and reposed melody of her voice, the torrent of her emotions, and, ultimately, her inescapable skill as an actor, was truly a remarkable experience.
The Old Mill Inn is, as with so many places in Toronto, a truly magical place, and after the performance, while standing out front of the dramatically beautiful building and its landscaping, after all the audience, the cast, and the trailing few individuals had passed where I stood and left --- all with a little glow, I might add --- I found myself a little mystified, inspired, and a bit different....in a wonderful way…