Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mad Cat Theatre: Macbeth & The Monster (reviews)

Mad Cat Theatre Company opened its production of Angela Berliner's Macbeth & the Monster at the Lightbox at Goldman Warehouse on December 28, 2011.
Under Paul Tei's direction, Miami's very own anarchic theatre company will create some theatre magic like it has never done before with the story of little Macbeth, because all little Macbeth wants is a bedtime story to help him fall asleep.  But when his mom tells him the scary story of Macbeth and the Monster, he gets more than he bargained for.

This production is an ALL AGES SHOW, so for those of you with kids, no baby sitter is needed or if you of course have your own little monster at home and need to escape, get that baby sitter and head to the theatre.
Paul Tei directed a cast that included Erin Joy Schmidt, Stephen Elliot Kaiser, Emilie Paap, Rachel Chin, Katleen Robiou, and Joe Kimble.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
It’s theater about being children, trying in theatrical terms to tell a story with a child’s delightful disregard for the constraints of logic, convention or even common sense.

Perhaps that’s injecting a little too much meaning in what seems another of Mad Cat’s patented nose-tweaking exercises in non-traditional theater. There appears to be as much serious intent in this absurdist comedy as there is in a Three Stooges routine.
There’s likely some subtext about childhood fears and a mother working out her anger at being abandoned by her husband, but it takes a back seat to director Paul Tei’s aggressively off-the-wall style of storytelling seen earlier this season in Mad Cat’s so my grandmother died blah blah blah. For Tei, the obvious fakery of theater is not something to cover up but to celebrate with gimcrack production values, intentionally over-the-top acting and as eclectic a mash-up of styles as possible.
Kimble, missing too long from local stages, has a wonderfully rubbery face that belies the deadly earnestness of Macbeth’s mien and becomes a source of giggles.

Schmidt, whose excellence as a dramatic actress was evident last season in Fifty Words and Goldie, Max and Milk, reminds us that she also has inventive and daffy comic chops. She always finds a way to twist a line reading or toy with a single word that sounds idiosyncratic yet real.

The rest of the cast is equally committed.
...Macbeth & the Monster is a comforting reminder that while Tei may have moved to Los Angeles to pursue a screen career, he has made good on his promise to continue to return home to force us to expand our definition of theater.
Mia Leonin reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...a hilarious tale that is part Shakespeare and part Loch Ness monster, with a healthy dose of Sesame Street thrown in. Written by Angela Berliner, a Los Angeles playwright, and directed by Mad Cat artistic director Paul Tei, Macbeth and the Monster reminds us of the importance of family, the reality of war, and the resilience of children’s imaginations.
Joe Kimble, a seasoned Miami talent, is wildly energetic as Macbeth. Sporting army fatigues and a neon toy gun, he hunts the Loch Ness monster. His sidekicks, Duncan and Banquo, take the form of Sesame Street characters Elmo and Sully, and they are ably manipulated by puppeteers Hannah Citrin and Giordan Diaz. Schmidt plays the dual role of Little Macbeth’s mom and the conniving Lady Macbeth who pushes her son to murder the king so that he can rule. Schmidt can shift from worn-out mom to wicked matriarch in the blink of an eye. Her Lady Macbeth is farcical and delightfully over the top.
Tei had the clever idea of updating the show with musical numbers. Emilie Papp, Rachel Chin, and Katheleen Robiou are fantastically funny as the three witches who predict Macbeth’s demise.
Tei also sculpted the play’s original storyline to hint at the reality of many military families who are divided for indefinite periods due to multiple deployments to the Middle East. For the first 10 minutes of the show, a military portrait of Joe Kimble stares stoically from its frame. There are no explicit references to a specific war, but the portrait of Little Macbeth’s absent father and the military theme convey the point.
Macbeth and the Monster is freewheeling, farcical and just plain fun — a good laugh before tax time and credit card bills come due.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami
Take a simple little bedtime story, twist it through the mind of playwright Angela Berliner, the direction of Paul Tei and the production of Mad Cat Theatre Company and you'll get something that won't really scare the pants of your little kid but will surely make him laugh. And his old 'rents, too.
It's a short, tight show, starring Erin Joy Schmidt as Mrs Macbeth the story telling momma of Stephen Elliot Kaiser's Little Macbeth. She is also Lady Macbeth urging Large Macbeth, played by Joe Kimble, to be all he can be. All three have great hokey fun with this tale, and so do we.
Macbeth and the Monster is a mash of Shakespeare (as you might have guessed), Sesame Street, the Loch Ness monster, the Andrews sisters, Queen, the US Army at war, very cool drumming, departed husbands, bloody hands and Out Damned Spots, the Three Witches, silhouettes on the screen, away-we-go walks, crouching puppeteers with King Duncan and Banquo. But no, there is no Birnam Wood. Even Mad Cat has its limits.
The Three Witches, Emily Papp as an Andrew's sister, Rachel Chin as a 60's child and Kathleen Robiou as a big haired blues belter also double on vocals, scorching the joint with, among others, Mad Cat's version of Bohemian Rhapsody. All this accompanied by exceptional drummer Brian Sayre who underscored with great humor throughout the show.
The Mad Cat Theatre Company production of Macbeth & the Monster plays at the Lightbox at Goldman Warehouse through January 8, 2012.

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