Petty jealousies in a 1960s Wichita accounting firm lead to lies and murder so a junior partner can become head of the company. Is this a film by the Cohen brothers or a Mad Men-like TV series?
Would you believe Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”?
That’s the underlying text of Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern’s wildly entertaining staging of director Jaybird O’Berski’s adaptation, “Maccountant.” The plot and characters remain basically the same but the presentation simultaneously satirizes and illuminates them, alternately evoking riotous laughter and riveted silence.
Bill Macbeth feels ignored by senior partner Frank Duncan, despite Bill’s loyalty to the firm. Egged on by predictions from three mysterious office cleaners and his wife Gloria’s ambition, Bill murders Frank. At first, crony Earl Banquo is supportive of Bill but soon his suspicions make him Bill’s next target. Things unravel when Bill thinks he sees Earl’s ghost at a staff meeting. Bill’s obsession leads to a final confrontation with Dick Macduff, whom Bill’s been told will ultimately head the company.
The dialog is not all Shakespeare’s, the references to thanes and warring clans changed to regional managers and rival firms. O’Berski’s trimmed down text regularly interjects lines with modern phrases and salty language. A particularly amusing touch has characters reacting to each other’s Shakespearian rantings with eye rolls and shoulder shrugs, acknowledging how the language can sound to today’s ear.
Dan Oliver is thoroughly believable as Bill, his matter-of-fact approach, clearly delivered, makes even the most poetic lines sound natural. Julie Oliver’s Gloria seems a nagging harpy at first, but she demonstrates range in the second act, especially in her schizophrenic “out damned spot” scene.
Shelby Hahn’s good-old-boy Earl gets laughs, as do Nancy Merlin, Caitlin Wells and Liam O’Neill, the weird cleaners, and Alice Rose Turner’s Vegas showgirl Hecate. Rebecca Bossen’s libidinous Ruth Ross and Jeff Alguire’s world-weary Dick Macduff merit kudos for enunciation and characterization.
Miyuki Su’s authentically detailed office set and Katharine Whalen’s 1960s fashions contribute period fun, while Louis Landry’s original score adds a melancholy noir flavor.
Although a number of actors use too strong an accent to be heard distinctly and the music’s volume sometimes obliterates whole pages of dialog, the production is nonetheless one of the company’s most inventive and engaging in recent seasons.
What: “Maccountant,” presented by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern
Where: Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Road, Durham
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 2-3, 8-10 and 15-17
Tickets: $17 (seniors/military $13; students $9)
Info: 919-384-7817 or littlegreenpig.com