It shouldn't be this way, but star power actually dims an otherwise clear, concise production of "Macbeth" now being revived off-Broadway at the Public Theater.
The big names in question are Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett, who play Shakespeare's murderous couple in a revival directed by the Public's head guru, George C. Wolfe."Macbeth" is a tragedy of spiritual bankruptcy, of a man so blinded by power that he is willing to kill to become king. He is eagerly joined in this quest by a wife determined to have him succeed.
Their moral dilemma couldn't be clearer. What is much murkier in this bloody, sweaty and intensely physical version is their anguish.
Baldwin, as the troubled monarch, has a better time of it than Bassett. His bull-like Macbeth is gruff, blustery and a bit crude - which works to a certain extent.
Baldwin's handling of Shakespeare's dialogue sounds curiously modern, at odds with much of poetry in some of Macbeth's better-known speeches.
Bassett, too, has a commanding physical presence.Yet Bassett's acting is wildly inflated.
Fortunately, Wolfe has surrounded his leads with an excellent production and supporting cast.