Dateline: Macbeth is a mashup of the tabloid style of true crime reporting and Shakespeare famous tragedy. Unfortunately this mashup is more of a mishmash of conflicting objectives and styles that strands a talented cast in Hawaii.
Yes, Hawaii is the setting for the story. A washed up TV actor named Michael (but modelled after David Hasselhoff) and his wife Kate have travelled to Hawaii to take part in a community theatre’s Shakespeare production as part of his comeback strategy. His career has gone nowhere (other than three stints in rehab) since the end of his TV series “White Stallion” about a man and his talking motorcycle. (For our younger readers, Hasselhoff starred in the TV show “Knight Rider” about a man named Michael Knight and his talking car that somehow survived for four seasons from 1982-1986.)
Michael’s wife Kate (Amy Frances Quint) was also an aspiring actress in her younger days. She put aside her own career when Michael’s TV show hit. She then was forced into a dutiful wife and caretaker role due to Michael’s career sidetracks and the unforgiving nature of Hollywood towards older actresses.
The community theatre features all of the expected stereotypes. There’s Don (Eric Doss), the pretentious director; Tina (Niamh McCormally), the sexy young female actress who is excited about the possibility of being with Michael in more ways than one; Stephen (Matthew Gunn Park), normally the company’s male lead, who is much more interested in a potential acting career than in his day job as a realtor; and, Lenny (Luke Edward Smith), the stern and efficient stage manager.
The company is rounded out by a hilarious Dateline anchor (Hugo Armstrong) who appears in filmed segments that set up each scene. His sly way of drawing out words to achieve maximum innuendo value works deliciously.
The production works best when it serves as a satire on theatre. Andy Hopper’s Michael is great at portraying a Hollywood hack whose enormous ego rests upon the fact that “White Stallion” is running in syndication in 65 countries. He continues shamelessly using his TV character’s catchphrase “Let’s ride!”
There are moments of wit throughout the show. When a person screams at a ghost claiming it is “not real” others take it as an acting note. At one point a character pulls out a ukulele and for a tribute and plays the signature song of the famous Hawaiian entertainer Don Ho. (Younger readers, just Google him.)
Yet most of the time the parody conflicts with the more serious elements of the story. A death hinted at in the Dateline opening brings serious repercussions to the affected characters. Sudden serious use of dialogue from the Scottish play never meshes with the rest of the work. (Side note: I would pay serious money to see the exquisite Amy Frances Quint as Lady Macbeth in a straight production of the work.)
by Andy Hopper
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Ultimately Dateline: Macbeth turns into “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” It’s a shame, but I hope someday to see other, more coherent new productions from the Brooklyn-based Quattro Gatti Theatre Company.