Short Shakespeare! Macbeth Review - Murder and Mayhem in Scotland

Chris Genebach

Playing now on the shores of Lake Michigan through mid- February is Short Shakespeare! Macbeth.  Considering the amount of murder, betrayal, madness and even infanticide present in the source material, it is little wonder that this production is decidedly darker than the usual family, friendly matinees put on stage by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.  Make no mistake, this is absolutely intended for multiple generations to enjoy (a fact pointed out after the production during the question and answer session).  It was also, for good reason, very well received on the day this critic reviewed the performance.  But you might want to leave overly sensitive children and/or those under the age of eight (or maybe even ten) at home.

Most likely first performed in the early 17th century, Macbeth tells the story of a once brave and loyal night who succumbs to the temptation of power after hearing a prophecy stating that he is destined to be king.  Spurred to action by his wife, (Shakespeare mostly liked his major female characters to be either suicidal or treacherously ambitious), Macbeth murders his king before eventually turning his sword on loyal friends as well as their wives and children.  All of this is enough to drive Macbeth and Lady Macbeth insane while forces loyal to the assassinated king gather their strength in England. 

Andrea San Miguel, Tiffany Yvonne Cox, Kevin Cox

The prophecy that first propels this wicked tale is delivered by that famous trio of witches whose haunting rhyme, “Double double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble” is likely the most fun couplet to say aloud.  In the hands of Director Kirsten Kelly and Wig and Make-up Designer Melissa Veal, these witches are as imaginative as they are terrifying to behold.  Crafted to suggest the horror of war, it is just one of many touches that elevate this production from the ordinary.  Costume design (Robert S. Kuhn), dialect (Timothy Edward Kane), and fight choreography (Matt Hawkins who also served as assistant director) also excel and there is even a nifty Matrix-style slow motion fight sequence thrown in at the beginning of the play.

Chris Genebach and Lanise Antoine Shelley

The cast is wonderful with Chris Genebach (Macbeth) and Lanise Antoine Shelley (Lady Macbeth) very convincing both in their descent into madness, as well as in their passion for one another.  Overall this is a very talented cast and it is truly a joy to see them performing on what is one of the nicer stages in Chicago.  Although shortened to a seventy-five minute production, the action did not at all seem rushed along (although a full production would probably have allowed for more seamless character development).  Shakespeare novices and Shakespeare veterans are both likely to be impressed by this production.

Chris Genebach, Andrea San Miguel, Tiffany Yvonne Cox, Kevin Cox

Bottom Line:  Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is highly recommended although only for persons over the age of ten.  Use your best judgment on whether to bring younger children.  Performances are at Navy Pier every Saturday at 11 AM and 2 PM through February 14th .  $16 - $20.  There is a question and answer session after each performance as well as an opportunity to take pictures and further converse with the actors in the lobby.  To purchase tickets, call (312) 595-5600 or go to  For more theater information as well as reviews go to

Lanise Antoine Shelley, Kevin Cox, Andrea San Miguel


Photos by:  Liz Lauren


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