By Andrew Andrews
New York loves Shakespeare. You can enjoy his work in theaters, sure—but also in Central Park... and Bryant Park... and Washington Square Park... and Brooklyn Bridge Park. You can even enjoy it in a Parking Lot on the Lower East Side from time to time. If you love him more than the average New Yorker, you can recite his work yourself, almost karaoke-style, at a bar in Midtown every week, with other aficionados cheering you on. And now, thanks to Dzieci Theatre, you can enjoy it in the most unusual of places: a shipping container... at a recycling facility... in a part of East Williamsburg that hasn’t lost its soul.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we present for your enjoyment: MAKBET.
On the L train to Montrose Avenue we agreed: this was either going to be awesome, or it was going to suck—there would be no in-between. Things were looking good when we turned the corner onto McKibbin, and a man introducing himself as “Startek” beckoned us into a junkyard for some theater. The odds looked even better when we were welcomed to join a circle of gypsies seated around a fire barrel—welcomed, that is, with offerings of vodka and sausage and words channeled from the spirits. And when everyone had arrived and we were led with musical accompaniment through a curtain and into a shipping container, with milk crates arranged as stadium seating on both sides of the stage—itself dressed only with a carpet and a cauldron—we knew we were in for a performance unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Now, back to the risk that this show was going to suck: you see, we’ve been to performances before where actors swapped roles, and found them a little difficult to follow, to say the least. And we knew going into MAKBET that swapping roles at the drop of a hat (sometimes even literally!) was one of the angles of this production. However—and this may be due to the intimate setting, or perhaps our familiarity with the story—we were never for a moment confused about who was whom, or what was what. And speaking of knowing the story: suffice it to say that there are other works of Shakespeare we might have preferred to attend; this, however, was by far the most thrilling reinterpretation of Macbeth we’ve ever seen, with a gypsy flair as unique and inspired as the punk-rock Greek mythology that we recently enjoyed from HISSIFIT. But unlike that re-imagining, this one stayed true to its core: the lines and scenes were Shakespeare’s nearly as he wrote them, but abridged enough that it wasn’t the least bit cumbersome to sit through (as the original, dare say, often is)!
If you’re lucky enough to catch this show while there’s still time, you should get what we mean when we say hats off—and on, and off again, and on again—to Matt Mitler and his small but convincing cast (Megan Bones, Yvonne Brechbuhler, Ryan Castalia, Felicity Doyle Golan, Jesse Hathaway and Chris Cook) for turning the same ol’ same-old into something refreshingly, compellingly new. Even if you’re not among the countless fans of The Bard, this production is worth giving a try. So do just that, then come back here and tell us what you thought. Whether you agree that the trip practically to Bushwick was well-deserved, or you think we’re a bit too zealous with our kudos, your reviews will help others decide whether they should follow your lead, and your ratings will help us help you find future performances you’re sure to love!5
Andrew Andrews attended MAKBET at Sure We Can in Brooklyn on Sunday, September 10, 2017 @ 4:00pm to write this review.
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