For its latest “Macbeth,” The Guthrie’s Wurtele Thrust Stage is transformed into a grand ruin, with the stage littered with the debris of long-standing battles and the great castle sporting ruined columns and a broken dome above. It’s a broad, overwhelming image (expertly crafted by Monica Frawley) that matches the mood of Joe Dowling’s production perfectly. This is a “Macbeth” that is loud and massive, but one that may obscure its heart in too much noise.
The cast is terrific, from the dynamic Erik Heger and Michelle O’Neil as the conniving leads all the way through to Macbeth’s rivals for the throne, the old king Duncan (Raye Birk) to the always-eerie Weird Sisters (Barbara Bryne, Isabell Monk O’Connor and Suzanne Warmanen).
Presented without intermission, “Macbeth” hurtles toward its conclusion through its famous set pieces. Dowling isn’t afraid to use blood or shocking moments of violence to bring home the tale’s darkness. By the end, you are not sure if Macbeth is to be seen as an example of what you should not do, or as an example of someone who had the right idea, but didn’t take it far enough.
All of this does strip the play of some of its nuance, which I think would actually help the dark mood here. I never got the sense that the trap that Macbeth and the Lady end up in is entirely of their own making — or if they ever had a chance after the Weird Sisters made their prophecy.
“Macbeth” runs through April 3 at the Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Minneapolis. Tickets are $24 to $60. For information and tickets, call 612-377-2224 or visit online.