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You can’t blame Eldrich Theatre or Eric Woolfe for the subtitle of their production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth “A Tale Told By An Idiot.”
the murderer of King Duncan and usurper of the royal crown of Scotland, yes, I do mean Macbeth, considered what he and his wife did to satisfy their lust for power and life itself as a tale told by an idiot and what’s more “signifying nothing.”
Eric Woolfe has decided to lampoon the entire play in an imaginative and unidiotic way that is his conception and is performed by him alone. He is the only performer and he acts out all the parts using puppets. He appears in various attires from wearing ridiculous masks, to holding outrageous puppets and changing his voice for everyone that he represents.
The set in a tiny corner of a tiny theatre looks like the upper part of a well and there are shelves for puppets, masks and other items like playing cards for him to amuse us with. He uses Shakespeare’s text with some modifications when humour is called for but he is largely faithful to the bard. Full marks to Melanie McNeill for set and wild costume designs and Gareth Crew for superb lighting design.
We meet the three Witches and Woolfe gives them distinct voices. A rather pathetic puppet is produced representing the Captain who relates Macbeth’s heroic acts to King Duncan, and the Witches appear again telling Macbeth the good news (he will become king) and the bad news (his heirs will not}.
Woolfe changes masks and dons the head of a nasty-looking woman, Lady Macbeth of course. We arrive at the Macbeth’s castle, hear the plans for the execution of the king and listen to the ominous knocks on the door. Woolfe stabs a puppet and blood (red paper napkins) oozes out and we know that the king has been dispatched permanently.
Woolfe introduces the scene of McDuff’s children speaking in their innocent voices before they are killed and we see a part of McDuff’s pain and anger. Woolfe can be dramatic in his recitation of Shakespeare’s lines and evoke humour at will.
We hear Macbeth in his hubris saying he cannot be killed unless Birnam Wood moves to Dunsinane and, moreover, he cannot be killed by a man of woman born. Surprise, both things happen.
The production, directed by Dylan Trowbridge, takes about 90 minutes. Woolfe keeps up a brisk pace as he goes through kaleidoscope of voices, magic tricks, masks and puppets. It is a bravura performance of a piece of imaginative and wonderful recreation of a famous play.
Here are Macbeth’s lines on hearing that Lady Macbeth has died and the source of the subtitle of the play under review:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
That’s pretty somber stuff but Woolfe and Trowbridge manage to give them and the entire play a completely different take.

MACBETH “A Tale Told By An Idiot” based on William Shakespeare’s play and conceived and performed by Eric Woolfe in a production by Eldrich Theatre continues until February 24, 2024, at the Red Sandcastle Theatre. 922 Queen Street East, Toronto.

February 16, 2024
Cultural - Κριτική Καλών Τεχνών

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