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Dressed To Kilt

January 1, 2009

Macbeth and Project Runway seem like an odd pairing for a double-bill. But yesterday evening, the Berkeley-based theatre company Shotgun Players followed up a New Year's Eve performance of Macbeth with a spoof version of the popular television fashion show.

Mark Jackson's production starring Craig Marker as Shakespeare's over-ambitious thane offsets the play's sick political soul with slick surfaces. The actors all strut about in designer duds, their messy guts spilling onto the on the catwalk-shaped stage both literally and figuratively throughout.

As such, the company's choice of post-show, New Year's Eve entertainment -- "Project Macway" -- made bizarre sense. After a few glasses of champagne, audience members were invited to submit descriptions of their outfits to the evening's MC (one of the actors from the show). The MC then called each wannabe fashion model up to the stage for a sashay down the runway. A panel of judges consisting of Jackson, Shotgun's artistic director Patrick Dooley and the production's costume designer Valera Coble then selected the prize winners. The contestants ranged from a middle-aged woman who flaunted the paradox of Berkeley living by waving the keys to her Prius in the air while caressing the neck of her real fur coat, to a young man in a fedora and sharp suit who called himself Derek Zoolander and proceeded to do an astute impression of the male model of the same name played by Ben Stiller in the fashion industry satire Zoolander.

If "Project Macway" didn't quite see out 2008 with a bang, it at least provided a lighthearted, albeit slightly limp commentary on Jackson's take on Shakespeare's play. If only Shotgun had rustled up a parade of strapping, young Macbeth lookalikes strutting their stuff in sporrans and kilts. Then, I'm certain, the catwalk would have truly come to life.

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