May Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum continue to reveal the wonders of The Bard to a new generation.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps along in this petty pace but WOW if it isn’t a relief to get out and see some theatre at Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum! Nestled in the beauty of Topanga Canyon this gem of a theatre space that is nothing short of a creative playground.
There are no poor players here (except if you consider how cruelly underfunded theatre actors and their companies are these days) that strut and fret their hours upon the stage. These brave actors take up the challenge of “The Scottish Play” and defy pernicious superstitions to whisk us away from our daily lives and into the fantastic world of Medieval Scotland.
Now to many of you, we at Hollywood Revealed don’t need to reveal how excellent the work is at Theatricum Botanicum. There is a reason they are Celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year! However, there are quite a few millennials who didn’t grow up with the love of Shakespeare that I did, and I will admit, I brought with me a Shakespeare skeptic to see this performance…
It did not disappoint. As hyped up as this theatre is, it lived up to expectations and the show was as enjoyable as the setting. If you have never seen a show here you will be amazed by atmosphere and the integration of the natural hillside environment to deepen the sense that you are being transported to another time and place. Under ELLEN GEER’s direction the ensemble really made Birnam Wood come to Dunsinane and enchanted us with swirling spells bubbling forth from witches mouths.
The most dazzling moment was the fan favorite cauldron scene which showcased the actors movement and singing prowess. The lovely yet still haunting melody sung by TAYLOR JACKSON ROSS’s “Hecate” served as the coriolis force that drove the cacophonous “Witches” round and round in all of their strange glory played by SARA CARPENTER, CHRISTOPHER GLENN GILSTRAP, CLAIRE SIMBA and SKY WAHL.
Though Macbeth is a dark tragedy not for the faint of heart there are definitely moments to rejoice in. FRANC ROSS had the audience guffawing as “The Porter” providing us all a welcome scene full of top notch buffoonery. The scene in which “Macduff”, played by AARON HENDRY, is tested by “Malcom”, played by CALVIN (CR) MOHRHARDT is heartwarming and MOHRHARDT finds an earnestness in the character that is both sweet and genuine. I want to highlight this scene because most of the rest of the play can move at a fervent pace and this scene is long and often grinds the show to a halt. This time it did not.
What is refreshing about this moment is that because MORHARDT is so likeable his ruse is immediately transparent. It somehow manages to further the notion that his benevolence will be his greatest virtue as king. It’s as much a testament to casting as his strong acting ability.
Equally, when Macduff is confronted with life changing news that could shatter a man, and a performance, HENDRY shows an incredible amount of restraint spotlighting his command of his craft. Even the few lines delivered by “ROSS” played by STEVEN C FISHER carry with them the gravitas of the moment.
Moments like these are what I was hoping to find. Macbeth is one of the most quotable and iconic plays in Shakespeare’s canon. It’s not absurd to think that most people have heard the lines “Out, damned spot”, “Unsex me here”, “Is this a dagger”, and “Tomorrow and tomorrow…” in some capacity and though these cherished soliloquies are performed with all the reverence and vigor in which they deserve, its the moments between them that can make or break a show.
“Macbeth” played by MAX LAWRENCE really comes into his power in the second act and is fearsome in his defense of his throne. “Lady Macbeth” played by WILLOW GEER is as ambitious as she can be and her conniving nature does seem to consume her. Both actors handle the challenge of the roles well and should be commended, for carrying on this tradition is no easy feat.
Macbeth at Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum keeps alive the time honored tradition of Summer Shakespeare and Macbeth runs in conjunction with A Midsummer Night’s Dream from June 10th to September 23rd.
Performances: June 10–September 23:
• Saturday, June 10 at 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, June 25 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, July 2 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, July 16 at 3:30 p.m.
• Friday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m.*
• Sunday, July 30 at 3:30 p.m.
• Thursday, Aug. 3 at 7:30 p.m.
• Friday, Aug. 11 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Aug. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m.**
• Saturday, Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m.*Pay-What-You-Will performance on Friday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. (cash only at the door)
**Prologue (pre-show discussion):Sunday, Aug. 26 from 6:30 p.m.–7 p.m. (included in ticket price)
Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Topanga CA 90290
(midway between Pacific Coast Highway and the Ventura Freeway)
• Adults: $48 (lower tier); $30 (upper tier); $60 (premium seating)
• Seniors (65+), Students, Military Veterans, Teachers, AEA Members: $35/$20
• Children (5-15): $15
• Children 4 and under: Free
• Friday night, July 21: Pay-What-You-Will (cash only at the door)