PATTERSON -- Patterson Repertory Theatre's 1980s-inspired production of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" is sexy, spooky and sinfully entertaining.
Director Joshua Morriston has included musical snippets from bands of the period such as the Eurythmics and Soft Cell, and his wife and costume designer Stefanie Baker Morriston has dressed the cast in leather and denim. Macbeth now looks like Billy Idol; the three witches and Lady Macbeth wear lingerie and heels.
These details make what is already one of Shakespeare's more engaging plays that much more appealing to modern audiences.
The play begins with the generals Macbeth and Banquo stopped in the woods by a trio of witches who prophesy that Macbeth will one day become king of Scotland and Banquo will father kings. What follows are magical spells, appearances by a mysteriously floating dagger and a ghost, and many bloody murders.
The play is filled with famous quotations, including the witches' incantation "Double double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble" and Macbeth's speech about life: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Morriston has edited the play down to a trim two-hour running time, including the intermission, and keeps the action moving at a fast pace.
Josh Cruz, who stars in the title role, is handsome and has an appealing natural acting style. His doubts, fears and passions seem authentic. Tori Scoles, a veteran local actress, is fierce and scary as his overly ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth.
Brooke Borba, Cristal Franco and Murri Royal Brown command attention as they slither around the stage casting magic spells. They are as alluring as they are evil. Wearing an eerie bird mask, Kathryn Loughman contributes more black magic as Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft.
Michael Hewitt is confident and eloquent as Duncan, king of Scotland, and Christian Barba is hot-headed as Banquo's son Fleance.
As is often the case in community theater productions, however, some of the cast members are weaker than others and some have trouble showing strong emotions.
Some of the modern updates to the play also don't quite work. Morriston's decision to give the warriors baseball bats instead of swords makes for an awkward battle in the scenes that are supposed to be sword fights. Also, it's never explained how a head gets chopped off by a baseball bat.
But these concerns are minor and don't detract from the overall impact of the play. Judging from the positive responses of the mostly teen audience who attended Friday night's opening performance, this production is a hit.
Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan Renner can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2313.
Patterson Repertorys Macbeth
RATING: * * *
WHERE: Patterson High School auditorium, 200 N. Seventh St.
WHEN: 2 p.m. Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1-3
RUNNING TIME: Two hours, including an intermission
TICKETS: $10 general, $8 students and seniors
INFORMATION: (209) 499-9363 or www.facebook.com/pattersonrep
* * * * Excellent; * * * Good; * * Fair; * Poor