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This isn't Shakespeare's MacBeth, says NoExit

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NoExit's This Is Not Shakespeare's MacBeth runs through the month at Irvington Office Center.
  • NoExit's This Is Not Shakespeare's MacBeth runs through the month at Irvington Office Center.

What if Macbeth were doomed to repeat his lines, over and over, like at PTSD-stricken soldier? That's, in a sense, the foundation for NoExit Performance's new adaptation of Macbeth, directed and conceived by Michael Burke. This Is Not Shakespeare's Macbeth is set in a mental hospital, where doctors and patients are seen staging traumas from Macbeth's life toward a therapeutic end.

When he began working on the play in January, Burke knew that he wanted his version of Macbeth to head in a new territory (eventually tagged as "one part Shakespeare, one part Freud, and one part Parnassus" on the show's flyer). "When the idea of doing Macbeth was thrown onto the table, I immediately thought about the decapitation scene," Burke says. "I didn't want to show the audience a fake plastic head and ruin the reality, so I came up with a way for Macbeth to lose his head, without actually losing his head. If you are a die hard fan of the original than this might not be the performance for you; we have definitely changed a lot."

Those changes include doing away with all supporting actors - the only named characters in NoExit's version are Macbeth (Matthew Goodrich), Lady Macbeth (Georgeanna Smith) and Banquo (Logan Moore). The remaining seven cast members are "played" by nameless patients who are given selected lines from the original play.

Smith says she's been working on getting into her character since rehearsals began in May: "This piece is so different, and portraying a mental patient who straddles this world and the world in Macbeth's head has been difficult. I have to gradually lose my mind through the play, and do it with conviction."

NoExit is presenting the show at Irvington Office Center, just down the road from its Irvington Lodge headquarters. The cast and crew has transformed a cafeteria in the center into a hospital room that transcends decades, featuring equipment dating from the '50s to the present. It's the latest site-specific piece by the peripatetic troupe, which has performed in Garfield Park and on the grounds on the Indianapolis Museum of Art within the past year.

"The story itself is uncreepy," Burke said. "The idea is really what is scary about it. Our biggest fears come from our imagination, and Macbeth is facing that."

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