Jamison Jones, Christine Sage, Kathryn Meisle, and Leslie Gangl Howe in <i>Macbeth</i>.

David Bazemore

Jamison Jones, Christine Sage, Kathryn Meisle, and Leslie Gangl Howe in Macbeth.

Macbeth’ at Ensemble Theatre Company

Shakespeare Meets Desert Ops in New Production

Presented by Ensemble Theatre Company. At the New Vic, Sat., Oct. 1. Shows through Oct. 16.

It’s not just superstition that keeps many theater companies away from performing Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The source of the indelible phrase “something wicked this way comes” presents fiendish difficulties to even the most well-prepared of casts, mixing some of Shakespeare’s best incandescent poetry with supernatural sequences that strain credulity. In Ensemble Theatre Company’s powerful new production, director Jonathan Fox employs multiple strategies in an assault on the text that’s distinguished both by the high quality of the performances and by the high-tech dazzle with which they are presented. As Macbeth, Jamison Jones offers crisp articulation and undeniable sex appeal. Once his shirt comes off early in the first half, any question about what Kathryn Meisle’s Lady Macbeth sees in him is laid to rest.

Two design decisions place this production firmly in the 21st century. Hana S. Kim has produced a brilliant set for the state-of-the-art projections that create the intricate backdrops and convincing apparitions. Dianne K. Graebner’s costumes substitute desert camouflage and modern bulletproof vests for the play’s traditional tartans and armor. In the final confrontation between Macduff (A.K. Murtadha) and Macbeth, fight director Ken Merckx renders this time shift complete, abandoning Shakespeare’s swordplay in favor of a struggle straight out of a Hollywood action movie. While these up-to-the-minute adjustments unquestionably give the production a fabulous look, what they mean remains an open question.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Jennifer Doudna Talks Gene Editing

She's confident the controversial technology will be used for good.

Phone Scammers Target Businesses

Pretend to have a delivery that just needs some cash or a wire transfer.

Former Ataris Bassist Pleads Guilty to Real Estate Scam

Michael Davenport faces up to 30 years in prison.

Girls Inc. of Carpinteria Names New Interim Executive Director

Lisa Murphy Rivas replaces Victoria Juarez, the new CEO at Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation.

Direct Relief Steps into Fire Effort

Highway 101 to the south opens; death toll at Camp Fire rises.