With her newest play “Lady M”, currently premiering at The Side Project Theater, Laley Lippard has stripped down and sexed up Shakespeare’s classic tale of murder and betrayal, “Macbeth”. Lippard has focused specifically on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s relationship as the couple ascends the Scottish throne and descends into madness.
In an oversized nightgown that threatens to fall off at any moment, Lady Macbeth (an intense Kristi Webb) seemingly floats around Dustin Pettegrew’s deft and minimal sets. Her entrancing eyes glow turquoise and Jeff Glass’s soft, dim lighting brings out the redness in her auburn hair. But save for making her the titular character and casting a raw and ready-to-bare-all Webb to play her, Lippard has done a disservice to Lady Macbeth’s character. Instead of intelligent, conniving and ambitious, she’s only insane. Lippard begins with her sleepwalking, haunted by her desperate want for children and this immediately renders the woman unstable and unreliable. From then on her motivation for murder seems to stem only from madness, creating a flat and predictable character, wasting the talents of the laudable Webb. Thankfully Corey Noble gives a wonderfully complex performance as Macbeth, asking the question: why has the spotlight been forced onto Lady Macbeth when it clearly wants to remain on him.
Lippard’s is an interesting interpretation of “Macbeth” if not an incredibly poignant one. The sexual aspects that Lippard has added are great and necessary. She has made incredibly creative use of a small space and an even smaller cast. (Although it does become confusing when the six actors must play multiple roles. The switches are not quite seamless.) But the moral of “Macbeth” has always been about the danger of ambition, the consequences of selfish actions and the haunting regret and guilt that follow them, and Lippard’s “Lady M” only reminds us to never trust a crazy woman.