SALT LAKE CITY — The Tragedy of Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known, and also more creepy of his plays. As one of the most produced here in Utah, a critic can start to wonder if there can be too much of a good thing. However, Scaffold Theatre of Salt Lake City’s new production of Macbeth shows exactly why we keep coming back to the work of the Bard time and time again, with fresh ideas and perspectives to these timeless tales.


Held at the Lightree Studios Blackbox Theatre, which is tucked into an industrial complex on the southwest side of Salt Lake, I almost thought I was lost upon arrival. Entering into the small space, the word intimate feels to big to describe the feeling. The audience is truly right there in the action. The atmospheric lighting design by David Braithwaite is dim and gloomy with a red hue, cluing us all into the fact that we are not to feel calm and safe for the next few hours. Hanging from the ceiling are three headpieces which eventually get used by the three weird sisters, played by Kirsten Henriquez, Winona Kasey, and Avi James. These sisters, witches, soothe-sayers, or whatever one wants to label them, set the tone for the show, and all three were well up to the task. I was especially taken by James, who had a wicked smile that permeated the stage with a mix of joy and evil that was haunting each time she entered. James was further cast as the Porter in the second act, and her monologue during that scene was so highly amusing that it brought the mood from fear to jovial in a matter of seconds and in a way that I have rarely seen in such a tragedy.

Director and Costume Designer Jennifer Kunz within her directors note in the program explained a bit of her interesting casting and directorial concept. Growing up near the famous Utah Shakespeare Festival, one can become accustomed to different interpretations, time periods, realities, and more of these tales. I have seen all gender castings bef

ore, however this is the first I recall of a director stating in the program that because troops in the past were all male, lets transport ourselves to an imaginary realm where the opposite were true. Saying nothing more than that, just imagine if the troops were women playing all the characters, and what does that do to a story such as Macbeth, one that has gender so heavily emphasized in the narrative. I recently heard a famous actor state that it was their belief that a work should not be revived unless the director had something new to say. This concept certainly did that. Reading the words of Kunz and seeing her realm play out on stage certainly left a lot of room for thought.

The role of Macbeth, played here by Julie-Anne Liechty, is one that has great depth as the character slowly falls into self-inflicted madness, and Liechty played the role to great effect. Aided by the chemistry found in the role of Lady Mac

beth, played in an intriguing way by Tehya Williams, I found myself riveted by the fact that the relationship felt more of the thirst for power from the beginning than any other renditions I have witnessed. And as each character descends i  nto madness, both Liechty and Williams handled their arches in distinct ways that kept me engaged in a story that felt fresh even though I am immensely familiar.

When examining the program both before and during intermission, I was truly impressed with the level of detail put into it for such a small and new theatre company. It may seem strange to include a program in a review, however when seeking out shows to recommend, it is wonderful to be able to say productions like this do everything to educate their audience. A history of the play, education on the facts verses fiction, and even understanding of the witches brew were all included. Additionally, I was taken by the mixed level of talent within the cast. Liechty among others have been on various stages all over the world and one can count themselves lucky to be sitting at the feet of such a performance. At the same time, there were others within the cast stating that this was their stage debut. To be frank, it was clear that there were differing levels of skill within those performance as well. It did not, however, detract from the overall performance. For the price point of the ticket, I saw a masterful Shakespeare with a new and fascinating interpretation, and also saw a beautiful master class in acting tutorials.

My final note is the addition of a live percussionist, Avery Hoisington. Because of the intimate space, no microphones or amplification was needed, which in many ways was fantastic because it is sound that often goes wrong in small productions. The addition of a small drum with war battle music instead of canned music added to the creepy, dark feeling that one would expect in Macbeth. It also showcased the beauty that is what we love so much about Utah talent and creativity. We have musicians ready and available to add something new and different to a haunting production. This simple sound, with the simple set and dark lighting was all that was needed to transform the space to the war zone. Most of us have seen Macbeth. You have not seen this Macbeth, and you should.

Macbeth, produced by Scaffold Theater, plays Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm at the Lightree Studios Blackbox Theatre 740 W 1700 S Suite 5, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104. Tickets are $25. For more information see 

These reviews are made possible by a grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks program.