Northwestern theatre professors Bob and April Hubbard will bring a dose of double toil and trouble to the stage in a two-person adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Taken straight from Shakespeare’s script, “MacDuo” is a one-hour show featuring the Hubbards as Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and multiple other characters in a one-of-a-kind version of the story.
While entirely new to the NW stage, tomorrow night’s performance is not the beginning of the journey for “MacDuo.” The project began in 2015 and was originally designed for performance at the Kansas City Fringe Festival.
“April got a summer research grant to adapt it,” Bob said, “to make the story clear with two people. Then this summer, we both got a summer grant to rehearse it and memorize and stage it.”
Because the Fringe Festival specified that the show must be only one hour long, April’s adaptation process faced a two-fold challenge. Not only did she have to make sure the story was clear with only two actors to play all the parts, but she also had to keep it under a strict time limit.
“It started with me taking out as much as I thought I could,” April said. “And then I realized, ‘Oh. I need to take out twice as much more.’ So there were things I wanted to include and things we cut at the very end when we still realized we were ten minutes over.”
The resulting adaptation is a tightly focused, action-packed show.
“It forces you to focus on the central action of the show, which is Macbeth and Lady Macbeth,” Bob said. “Everything in there supports their story.”
Though Bob and April have both appeared in versions of “Macbeth” before, this is the first time they’ve gotten to play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth opposite each other.
“In one production, Bob was Macduff and I was a witch,” April said. “We’ve also played Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, but in different productions.”
A detailed sound design supports the production. Created by [former NW theater student] Rowan Sullivan (’16), it features numerous specific sound cues as well as recorded voice work by April.
“Sound was really the primary design element we decided to focus on in this show,” April said.
The costumes, props and scenery, designed by April, are simple yet creative and weave effectively into the story.
The Hubbards performed “MacDuo” four times at the Fringe Festival in July. Now they are excited to share this unique, fast-paced production with NW and the Orange City community.
“It’s always interesting to view the classics in new ways, to see how a complicated plot like this can be boiled down to its essence,” Bob said. “It’s a passionate story.”
“MacDuo” hits the stage in the England Proscenium Theatre on Saturday, September 10, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are free and seating is first-come, first-served.