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Criticism of Macbeth Unnecessarily Harsh



It was quite disturbing to read Susannah R. Mandel's review of the Loeb Mainstage production of Macbeth in your Oct. 24 Arts section. The offensive review was not a critique, but rather an out-right attack on Macbeth's lead actor, Pablo Colapinto '00. I was an audience member on opening night and left the theater having enjoyed a fine production that pulled together amazingly well in the four short weeks since it was cast. Opinion on the specific interpretation, which Mandel calls everything from "bizarre" to "whiny," was indeed ranging, but it would be highly unfair to say that anyone left not appreciating the energy, artistic creativity or boldness of both the show and its actors.

Even more unjust is to say that the lead performance "spoiled" anything other than Mandel's unyielding notions of what Macbeth should be. In fact, what she takes such issue with in Colapinto's performance as "petulant muttering," his casual attitude as if "enjoying a private joke," fit rather well with the chosen interpretation; to say that his performance "prevents the production from generating fear and explosive emotion which the play is intended to evoke" is to say that there is a right or wrong way to perform it, which has no strong basis in the idea of interpretation itself.

Colapinto's performance balance quite well with Edith (not Emily) Bishop's shrewish portrayal of Lady Macbeth. Her performance was, as Mandel points out, exquisite, but she deserved far more praise than Mandel gave her. To eliminate Colapinto from Mandel's list of quality elements of the show, to attack his work as "poor judgment or sheer incompetence," and to downplay Bishop's excellence, is wrong. Mandel is welcome to her opinion, but the mean-spirited tone of the article was both unfair and unnecessary; the highlighted quotes and headlines only helped Mandel blame any and all problems with the show on Colapinto. Many who read the review were bothered, and I can only imagine just how disconcerting it was to the actors who had to take to the stage after reading it.

Julio V. Gambuto '00

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