Sure, the original plot of Shakespeare's Macbeth is adequate, but just think how much better it could be if the weak parts were tightened up a bit. For example, instead of setting the play hundreds of years ago in Scotland, how about setting it hundreds of years in the future with all the action taking place on a space ship? And instead of a heavy examination of naked political ambition, why not focus instead on the virtues of butt-kickin' girl power?
These are the questions asked by local comedy troupe Eat, Drink and Be Larry, whose newest production, Macbeth in Space, makes these very alterations to Shakespeare's famous script. Last year, the group had enormous success with a similar reworking of Hamlet, called Hamlet the Vampire Slayer, which ran upstairs at the now defunct Gorilla Tango. This year, they're trying their hands at “improving” another blood-drenched Shakespearean tragedy.
“The Vortex Theatre's production of Hamlet seemed like the big show everyone was talking about last year,” says Jason Witter, director of Macbeth in Space. “So we thought we would do a parody of that. This year, the Macbeth show at the Vortex got similar attention, so we thought we'd do the same thing.”
Witter came up with the plot for Macbeth in Space along with comedy writers Aaron Frale and Jessica Osbourne. He points out that they're all good friends with Tricklocker Chad Brummett, who starred in the Vortex's production of Hamlet and directed its production of Macbeth. In other words, Eat, Drink and Be Larry's intention isn't to mock these plays but to pay some kind of twisted homage to them.
That said, Witter and Company spent a lot of time watching ’80s-era science fiction movies for inspiration. “We mix in lots of direct references to the play,” says Witter, “but the plot is basically a combination of Jason X and Aliens.”
For 400 years, the story goes, Macbeth has been cryogenically frozen. When he comes to life aboard a research space vessel he starts slaughtering everyone in sight. Space marines attempt to subdue him, but to no avail. It's up to sexy space babe Ellen MacRipley to save the crew from this bloodthirsty menace.
Witter says it's been a year since Eat, Drink and Be Larry staged a live show. In the meantime, they've been shooting Hamlet the Vampire Slayer as a feature film. “I hope to at least screen it at the Guild,” says Witter, “and submit it to a few festivals.”
For now, though, their attention is directed toward the new show. In the mood for a little astro-mayhem? This is the show for you.