Thanksgiving is still a week away, but Lincoln Center Theater is already serving up a giant turkey in the form of Jack O'Brien's bloated, poorly acted and strangely conceived production of "Macbeth" starring Ethan Hawke.
Lincoln Center Theater's decision to do "Macbeth" now is questionable. Alan Cumming's streamlined version, in which he played virtually every character, just received a limited run on Broadway, and an acclaimed London staging with Kenneth Branagh will play the Park Avenue Armory this summer.
On top of all that, countless other Shakespeare plays are currently running in New York, ranging from the Globe Theatre's brilliant double bill of "Twelfth Night" and "Richard III" with an all-male cast to a four-actor "Hamlet" in the East Village.
O'Brien's production is dominated by the witches, who are played by men and frequently pop up in other small roles. The design scheme is all over the place, dominated by pitch-black set pieces, sharp beams of light and costumes that range from modern cocktail attire for parties to leather vests for battle scenes.
As Macbeth, not only does Hawke recite the text terribly, often mumbling, he plays the role like a flamboyant prima donna who has taken too many mind-altering drugs.
Anne-Marie Duff, making her Broadway debut, portrays the characteristically icy Lady Macbeth as too frail. There are many fine actors in the ensemble, ranging from Brian d'Arcy James to Jonny Orsini, who fail to make much of a difference in this mess.