William Shakespeare’s “MacBeth” is transported to a galaxy far, far away in the latest production from Right Brain Theater. Produced and directed by Orion Couling, “MacSith” tells the tale of "MoffBeth" (Nick Toussant), a Jedi General who helps his King (Paul Dennhardt) bring an end to a great galactic conflict. MoffBeth is soon seduced by the Dark Side of the Force in the form of three witches who prophesy that he will be the new ruler of the galaxy. What follows is the classic story of murder, guilt and lust for power told in the melodic rhythms of the Bard, but with the narrative firmly placed within the Star Wars Universe.
It can be pretty tricky to pull off what the Right Brain Theater is trying to do with “MacSith.” There’s a particular balance that you need to strike so that the story doesn’t lose it’s integrity in the translation. But the story's epic elements work well as a Star Wars tale, and with just a couple stumbles, "MacSith" succeeds admirably in making Shakespeare’s play work as well with light sabers and Mandalorian bounty hunters as any traditional telling has.
Where "MacSith" works best is in the performances of the ensemble. Nick Toussant has a very short time to establish his “MoffBeth” as a good man before he is quickly seduced by the Sith Witches, and he pulls it off with just a smile to a fellow Jedi and a kiss to his lady love.
Jill Meyer’s “Lady MoffBeth” blends beauty and pathos together effectively, playing a key role in her husband’s descent into darkness.
Add to that solid turns by the rest of the cast, with the real standout being Sydney Ray as “Lady MonDuff”, wife to Orion Couling’s “MonDuff” and Master to a group of younglings who are played by Couling’s youth acting group. Ray has a stunning scene where she must fight off a trio of Mandalorian bounty hunters who have been hired to kill her and her clan. Using very clever lighting and sound effects, “Lady MonDoff” battles the mercenaries using her Force powers, before being felled in a scene reminiscent of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s death in “Star Wars: A New Hope.”
The young actors who portray the Jedi students were also impressive in their “death scene.” I was genuinely moved.
Another strength of “MacSith” is the cinematic feel of the production. Even though the stage is sparse at times and leaves much of the details to the audience’s imagination, the actors make good use of their props and the production’s sound design to give it a big-budget feel. The light saber battles are very well choreographed and they even use the blades to create some cool lighting effects.
If there are any flaws in “MacSith” it’s that it gets just a bit too geeky with the Star Wars details. Die-hard Star Wars nerds will easily pick up the subtle references to Kamino and the Death Star's Prime Weapon. But if you’ve only seen the classic trilogy - and not the Prequels or the Clone Wars animated series - the bits with the Sith may be lost on you. When "MoffBeth" puts on a Sith Lord mask, it looks nothing like Darth Vader’s, which may confuse mainstream fans.
The somewhat upbeat and redemptive ending also seemed a bit incongruous. Yes, it works as a Star Wars story, but not so much for a Shakespeare tragedy.
Beyond those minor nitpicks - another one being a Lobot that talks more like a certain protocol droid than Lando Calrissian’s right hand man - “MacSith” does a nice job of interpreting Shakespeare’s play as a science-fantasy epic and making it accessible to all audiences.
MACSITH gets a GEEK FACTOR RATING of 3 1/2 LIGHTSABERS (out of 4)
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