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The solution, of course, is to change some of the male roles to female. This often sacrifices major plot points, however, since they make no sense with females in certain roles.
In Macbeth, you would think the result would be disastrous. The play is thick with men in determinedly male roles – soldiers, kings, thanes. Only Lady Macbeth, Lady Macduff and the witches are female.
But in the Weaver production, which opens tonight (Thursday), director Lindsey Clinton and the designers have made some powerful and effective choices.
First, the set and costumes have a vaguely Japanese motif that gives a sense of abstraction to everything. This is followed by having all the battle scenes slowed a little, and dancelike in the movement, so we are not expecting realism. Thus we accept female soldiers and unrealistic sword-fighting without flinching.
Then, the royal parts are played by women – as queens, rather than kings. The performers play these roles imperiously; they're quite convincing.
The result is a powerful, moving presentation of a play that should have been beyond the reach of a high school performing group. It helps that certain key actors rise above the normal high-school practice of reciting rather than acting Shakespeare's dialogue. DJ Gayles as Macbeth and Cara Farlow as Lady Macbeth have strong voices and make powerful figures on the stage.
It almost can't be helped, though, that Macduff walks away with every scene he's in. Kyle Kite is surprisingly mature as a stage performer, and his emotions are the most convincing in the cast.
The part is also written to be the real hero of the story. Even though Macbeth is the protagonist, the person whose decisions shape the play, it is Macduff who suffers most without actually dying, and it is Macduff who eventually brings him down.
Macbeth will be performed at Weaver (300 South Spring St.) on Dec. 13, 14, and 15 at 7 p.m., and on Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. The cost is $6 for students and $8 for adults; they accept cash only. It's by far the best high school drama in Guilford County, and the faculty make sure that productions are always innovative and illuminating. We're lucky to have this program!