weAREproductions Damns Love, Lies in Fleetwood Macbeth at Public House Theatre


Writer/director and weAREproductions co-founder Ricky W. Glore has set the Scottish play in a 70s radio station. King (Duncan, played by lanky Aaron Sarka) is the reigning disc jockey with a penchant for Elvis at WS 103.5 “The Shakes.” (Remember vinyl? Forty-fives also decorate the simple stage, alongside a turntable on black milk crates, designed by Brad Rady). The cocky King spends his time hitting on Lady (company co-founder Ali Delianides, wearing flannel and jeans) when not playing “Stairway to Heaven” to cover a long bathroom break.

Lady’s old man Mac (denim-loving Dennis Frymire) wants to get promoted out of the graveyard shift with his buddy, Lady’s brother doofus Banky (scene-stealing Timmy Barron), so he has to kiss ass and not defend Lady’s honor from passes by his long-haired, cowboy-hat wearing boss.

Lady’s had enough, so she spikes his coffee with rat poison. Mac gets the good time slot, but continues to be haunted by two Witchy Women, Caroline Nash and Kilee Rheinsburg (bearing a resemblance to Jane Krakoswki) and one Witchy Man, Neil Geistlinger, as well as the mysteriously dispatched, beer-loving Banky.

The conceit works. I wish the witches looked more like Stevie Nicks – they do wear top hats, but are missing her supernatural, hippie handkerchief-hemmed skirts and shawls – but the lyrics are often spot on: “I want to be with you everywhere,” “I see the crystal visions,” and “thunder only happens when it’s raining.” King intones “when the loving starts” to a disgusted Lady.

Lady and Mac’s relationship is encapsulated in “She broke down and let me in / Made me see where I’ve been / Been down one time / Been down two times / I’m never going back again;” as well as “tell me lies / tell me sweet little lies.”

Mac sings “sweet wonderful you” to Lady’s body after her oddly unmotivated death. Banky’s ghost turns to “Tusk” to ask Mac about his reasons:

Why don’t you ask him if he’s going to stay?

Why don’t you ask him if he’s going away?

Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?

Why don’t you tell me who’s on the phone?

Why don’t you ask him what’s going on?

Why don’t you ask him who’s the latest on his throne?

Don’t say that you love me!

Glore is onto something here, but his script peters out after the intermission when FCC agent MacDuff (also Sarka) is suddenly in charge and the 75-minute production is over, as if he ran out of time and energy to make the often spot-on connections between the lyrics and the text. weAREproductions apparently specializes in musical and theatrical mash-ups – a solid concept, but needs to be fully realized (also, a cursory internet search reveals “Fleetwood Macbeths” being performed at other theaters as far back as 2004).

The singing and harmonies are good, thanks to vocal director Dan Riley, and hopefully in future iterations, Glore’s scripts won’t, won’t “break the spell.”

Fleetwood Macbeth runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through April 30 at The Public House Theatre, 3914 Clark St., Chicago. Tickets and information are available at 800-650-6449 and boxoffice@thepubtheater.com.

Karin McKie
Karin McKie

Karin McKie is a Chicago freelance writer, cultural factotum and activism concierge. She jams econo.