Macbeth opens with power in the seats and on the stage

Cara Stelmaschuk (left) as Lady Macbeth and Nathan Loitz as Macbeth both delivered rousing performances on Thursday. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

Thursday was a night of power and performance at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre, with Prince Albert’s political elite turning out for the premiere of Spark Theatre’s Macbeth.

The opener for the show’s three-night run attracted Minister Joe Hargrave, Prince Albert Northcote MLA Nicole Rancourt, Mayor Greg Dionne, former mayoral candidate Martin Ring and numerous Crown prosecutors and business leaders.

It was a fitting tribute to a production that vaulted a classic power drama into the modern era. Director Roxanne Dicke set her Macbeth in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, kicking off the show with a video montage showing scenes of climate destruction, nuclear warfare and Donald Trump.

Nathan Loitz delivered a stunning performance in the title role, deftly capturing the internal conflict and mounting madness of his character. He said he hopes the performance can serve as a cautionary tale for the politicians in the audience.

Nathan Loitz, as Macbeth, beholds a knife held temptingly by Adreanna Boucher, who played a sinister and convincing witch. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

“Macbeth abuses his power and the people around him,” Loitz said. “It came back to him in the end. That’s what a true democracy is. You’re accountable to your constituents. So when it comes to power like that, be careful what you do with it, because the people are the true power.”

Prince Albert’s politicians all seemed to draw different lessons from the production. Rancourt said she was captivated by the set design and the acting. She appreciated the parallels with international politics and the Trump administration.

“Right away, at the beginning of the play, I know it put me in an unsettling spot,” she said.

She said the play drives home the corrupting influence of absolute power. Rancourt was somewhat reticent to draw comparisons with what goes in in the Legislature, but she said the Saskatchewan Party could learn a thing from Macbeth about the dangers of making decisions “without thinking of the long-term impact.”

Banquo returns from the dead to haunt Macbeth during the performance at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Thursday. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

But she remained conciliatory. She said it was nice to see Hargrave at the play. The two political adversaries viewed the performance differently, as they do so much else. Hargrave said he wasn’t much interested in the Trump-heavy opening montage.

“That’s their prerogative to have a say on it,” the minister said. “But when I started to pay attention was when the play started.”

He said he found the modern spin “refreshing,” but didn’t glean any political lessons that weren’t already in Shakespeare’s original.

“Macbeth takes me back to high school,” he said. “I was just happy to see all the wonderful talent we have in this city.”

For more on this story, see the Saturday October 21 edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.