EVANSTON — “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes” - so say the Weird Sisters, the witches at the heart of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” who set the stage for Macbeth’s murderous deeds.
Though the tale itself may indeed be wicked, the production of the classic work offered by members of the Evanston High School theater department for their fall play on Nov. 1-3 was a delightful way to wrap up the Halloween witching season.
More than 70 high school students put their collective talents to work in all facets of the production, including the acting, set design and construction, makeup and costumes, props, lights and sound and stage management. Though more than one theater-goer was heard to remark on the difficulty in understanding the Shakespearean dialogue, the cast themselves tackled it beautifully and brought the tale of witchcraft, ambition, murder, madness and retribution to life for the audience.
Freshman Riley Ovard played the title character with genuine emotion and inflection that revealed an understanding of the challenging dialogue, and Quinnae Brooks played the overwrought Lady Macbeth, the other half of the doomed couple whose ambition and ever-increasing evil deeds seal their fates. Ovard and many other cast members had the opportunity to use some stage-fighting skills in the climactic swordplay near the end.
The production made creative use of the EHS auditorium, as action unfolded in and around the audience as well as onstage, including when the cast hid behind shrubbery to simulate Birnam Wood moving toward Dunsinane, a happening foretold by the witches to be a harbinger of Macbeth’s defeat.
Directed by theater instructor Erin Russell with assistance from student Grace Lester, “Macbeth” highlighted the skills of the talented youth at EHS, talents that will again be on public display on a couple of other occasions throughout the school year.
The theater department’s state showcase will be at 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, while the annual dinner theater, this year featuring “The Bold, the Young & the Murdered,” is scheduled for Feb. 21-23 and Feb. 28 - March 2. Finally, the annual spring musical will take place May 2-4.