Scrappy Shakespeare 2016 Season

Scrappy Shakespeare formed in the summer of 2015 with the inagural production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
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REVIEW: Something Wickedly Thrilling This Way Comes in Scrappy Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’

Sarah Hurley as Lady MacBeth in Scrappy Shakespeare's production playying in Denny's Plaza through July 10.
Sarah Hurley as Lady MacBeth in Scrappy Shakespeare’s production playying in Denny’s Plaza through July 10.

BY SANDY STAGGS
DRAMA CRITIC

Spartanburg’s newest cultural jewel Scrappy Shakespeare launched its sophomore season last week with a thrilling presentation of  “Macbeth” brimming with stellar performances, haunting imagery, imaginative costumes and a steady ominous tone.

Brilliantly directed by founding member Tim Giles, Hub-Bub Assistant Director and host of the late-night talk show “The Latest Thing in Spartanburg,” “Macbeth” is being staged in a new location at  Denny’s Plaza after debuting last summer at The George School of Business courtyard with “A Midsummer Nights Dream.”

Scrappy Shakespeare operates in the centuries-old tradition of a travelling Shakespearean acting troupe with minimal sets and lighting and a communal tenet whereas all seven of its rotating members participate in the various aspects of production including staging, design, crewing and marketing  – and each play about five roles.

Starring in the Bard’s tragedy about unbridled political ambition are three founding members: Chandler Crawford and Sarah Hurley as Macbeth  and Lady Macbeth in their first extended pairing since “Of Mice and Men” last November at Spartanburg Little Theatre, and Liam MacDougall, who recently played the young Danceny in The Warehouse Theatre’s exquisite “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” and the titular Danish prince in its touring version of “Hamlet” for young audiences.

This trio gives remarkably focused performances here. Ms. Hurley is engaging as the domineering wife who prompts her husband to kill Kung Duncan and mesmerizes the audience as she sleepwalks and tries to wring her hands of  the guilt and bloodshed.

Crawford expertly demonstrates his superior skills as a natural soliloquist in his numerous Macbeth monologues as he confronts his sanity and the portent of impending doom. And MacDougall shows his incredible versatility from comedic resonance to his emotionally charged portrayal of Macduff upon learning of his family’s slaughter.

The enchanting newcomer thespians in the Scrappy Shakespeare company include Anna Elyse Lewis, who just landed the coveted role of Belle in SLT’s fall opener “Beauty and the Beast,”  recent USC-Upstate graduate Andrea Azumendi and Connor Vetter, who consistently extols vigor and a penchant for great accents.

Lewis (who is one of the actors that plays the Thane Ross), Azumendi and Hurley are fervently terrifying as the three haggard witches who prophesize Macbeth’s reign in some of the creepiest masks you will ever encounter.

The acoustics are excellent at Denny’s Plaza and the mood is made all the more ominous by the continual beat of battle drums – there is a war going on, mind you –  ultimately played by all members of the troupe.

Hurley’s cohesive all-black costume scheme with jeans, corsets and suspenders with flashes of color on the sashes lends a sense of brooding to the proceeding as does her novel, unmessy depiction of blood. And brava to Azumendi for those horrifying masks.

Last summer the troupe mounted “A Midsummer Nights Dream” without a “director” per se, which worked well within the confines of a less rigid fanciful comedy. But this productions benefits greatly from the troupe’s decision to appoint Giles as director and he has instilled a unified vision here, leading the cast to a succinct, powerful and most effective drama.

“Macbeth” continues Friday, July 1 and Thursday –Sunday, July 7-10 at Denny’s Plaza, 203 E Main St. in Spartanburg. For more information, visit http://www.scrappyshakes.weebly.com.

All performances are FREE but you can make a cash donation at the performance or at Indiegogo:http://igg.me/at/scrappyshakes.

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