CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- The hurlyburly in "Macbeth" rages throughout Hubbard Hall's main stage space but it too-readily dissipates in an effortful Hubbard Hall Theater Company production that falls short of virtually every opportunity William Shakespeare provides.

Among the wonders of the venerable Hubbard Hall space is its flexibility. From one production to the next, the ample room rarely has been configured the same way twice. For this production, director and co-set designer John Hadden has positioned his audience in risers along one wall and diagonally across a corner of the room's actual stage.

It's an intriguing arrangement that leaves a vast area which Hadden's actors, most of whom play multiple roles, fill with earnestly applied passionate volume but little else.

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At the center of this affair are Gino Costabile and Betsy Holt's Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, whose youth and energy hint at a potentially interesting take on "Macbeth" -- the corrupting influence of a sudden rush of power and celebrity bestowed upon a young couple who are ill-prepared for what they have wished for.

Costabile is often on the verge of striking at the truth of the conflicts that tear at Macbeth but, in Holt, he is subjected to a Lady Macbeth who bullies and cajoles; hectors him at nearly every turn; an untamed, shrieking shrew.

Indeed, the casting throughout too often challenges the logic of Shakespeare's storytelling, never more so, perhaps, than the fateful climactic duel which here pits Costabile's robust Macbeth against Reilly Hadden's less assertive Macduff.


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It says a great deal that this production finds truth chiefly in Christine Decker's supporting appearances as Duncan, Hecate and the doctor who ministers to the deteriorating Lady Macbeth.

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For all its determination and effort, Hadden's unimaginative production continually undermines the rich theatrical impulses at work in this compelling play -- a lighting scheme that is flat and lacking nuance; an intrusive sound design; staging that is too often awkward, static, muddled or illogical; three witches who are earthbound and without any sense of mystical other.

in the end, for all its sound and overspent fury, this "Macbeth" signifies, if not nothing, then certainly little.