The second play presented by Independent Shakespeare Company (ISC) at Griffith Park this year is William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy MACBETH.

MACBETH is the story of a Scottish general who is told by three witches that he is to become King of Scotland. Rather than waiting for their prophesy to be fulfilled, and emboldened by his wife, he takes matters into his own hands and murders the King. Paranoia and guilt overcomes them both thereafter, leading to their demise. 

If you are a Shakespeare’s fan, chances are you have seen this play multiple times. So, what does this production offer to make it worth watching it one more time? For one, its environment. Set at the Dell at the top of the Old Zoo in Griffith Park, the story develops as the day ends and night begins and the noises of Los Angeles’ largest park mix in with the words of The Bard. With the exception of two stepladders, which serve some times as thrones and others as horses, during the majority of the play the stage is bare and the action and the actors move freely amongst the trees, the nearby hill, and the audience. 

The eeriness of the world of MACBETH is felt even as a voice welcomes you to the play. Because this production is using wrap-around sound design, it feels as if someone is talking behind you; or next to you perhaps. As the play moves along, and at any given moment, the ghost of Banquo may sit next to you, or you may feel one of the witches stand beside you. 

In this production, Macbeth is clearly the murderer. No one is wondering. There are no other suspects. Everybody knows that Macbeth killed the King. The question at hand is – what will they do about it? And how swiftly?

Macbeth is performed by Sam Breen, whose relationship with his Queen (played by Kalean Ung) feels comfortable and real. Come to find out, the actors are husband and wife, so that may have something to do with it. They are both excellent performers who seem to know this play inside and out. 

Kalean Ung as Lady Macbeth & Sam Breen as Macbeth / Grettel Cortes photo

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While we all know that it’s not real, the fight scene is pretty “bloody.” This will probably be a bit intense for your small kids. Get a sitter, some food and drink (alcohol bottles will get you a fine), register your attendance (because space is limited particularly on the weekend), remember your insect repellent, and head over to the Dell for a wonderful summer night. This is ISC doing what they do best!

There is no admission price, but orange buckets will float about hoping for a donation, so take some cash. Parking is free at Merry Go Round Lots 2 and 3. Follow the ISC signs placed throughout the park. Visit iscla.org for additional information, or call 818.710.6306.

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