Utah company aims to make Shakespeare cool for kids with ‘Macbeth’

To be or not to be there — that is not a question for most of the audiences seeing the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s touring company production of “Macbeth” at the College of Southern Nevada. Only two performances are public, 10 are for schoolchildren. (Both versions are identical.)

Effort was therefore made to hold adolescent interest in this presentation of the famous play, about a Scottish king who ascends to his throne over the literal heads of his competitors. Director Christopher Clark even goes as far as calling it “kind of fun.”

“The goal is for people to see this and go, ‘This is really, really cool,’ ” he says.

For one thing, it runs only 80 minutes instead of potentially approaching three hours.

“We took out some of the talking that goes on for a long time,” Clark says. “We get right down to the nitty-gritty.”

None of the four murders gets the ax, though, which makes for more blood spilled per “Macbeth” hour than average.

“There’s a guy that gets his heart pulled out,” Clark says. “There’s a guy that gets his eyeballs poked out.”

Don’t get too excited, fans of the video game “Dead Space 2.” The blood is merely suggestive, represented by red ribbon instead of liquid.

“But I think we can get away with things with red ribbons that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to with blood,” Clark says. “You can be a little more graphic but at the same time less offensive.” (Plus, Clark adds, the production saves on the cost of laundering fake blood out of wardrobes after every show.)

There’s also a sex scene. Sort of.

“This drunk guy talks about how liquor takes away his sexual performance,” Clark says. “It is pretty funny.”

OK, so it’s no “Jersey Shore.” But one inventive element of Clark’s production is its use of found objects as props: sticks, ladders, umbrellas.

“We use a lot of everyday objects in the show to represent other things,” Clark says. “Our audience using their imagination is part of the fun of it.”

One thing this “Macbeth” does not retool is any of the Bard’s original language.

“We want to represent Shakespeare as best we can,” Clark says.

In other words, you still may want to bring your old CliffsNotes.

Contact reporter Corey Levitan at clevitan@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0456.

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