A Testament To The Performative Spirit: Our Review of ‘Voodoo MacBeth’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 21, 2022
A Testament To The Performative Spirit: Our Review of ‘Voodoo MacBeth’

Sometimes in life there are projects that just defy logic and expectation and rise simply on the quality of the craft…

Based on the true story of Orson Welles, Rose McClendon and their revolutionary Shakespearean production; Voodoo Macbeth succeeds when all logic says it shouldn’t as its 10 directors and 8 writers accomplish the near impossible and stay true to the spirit of being an artist and putting something different up on that stage.

Before Citizen Kane and The War of the Worlds, leading Broadway actress Rose McClendon (Inger Tudor, “Goliath,” “On Time”) and producer John Houseman convince a gifted but untested 20-year-old Orson Welles (Jewell Wilson Bridges, the national tours of “My Fair Lady” and “La Cage Aux Folles” in his feature film debut), to direct Shakespeare’s Macbeth with an all-Black cast in Harlem. Reimagined in a Haitian setting, this production, which came to be known as “Voodoo Macbeth,” would change the world forever, but the road to opening night proves to be a difficult one. Orson and Rose – who is to play Lady Macbeth – clash over everything from scene blocking to crew hires, while Houseman contends with a congressman hell-bent on shutting down what he deems “communist propaganda.” Welles and McClendon must overcome political pressure, personal demons, and protests to realize their ground breaking vision.

It’s hard to believe but one of the many ways that Voodoo Macbeth defies convention is that it’s kind of critic proof (but as always we will give it our best shot).

This film is really a fantastic example of team unity as there is never a sense of multiple voices trying to steer this project, it is 100% unified from the word go, with solid production design up and down the line and never a sense of doubt in the story that it is trying to capture.

A lot of which comes from some pretty strong leading performances in Inger Tudor and Jewell Wilson Bridges as the McClendon and Welles respectively.

Tudor allows McClendon who was a contemporary of the likes of Paul Robeson to be weary to the world as she tries to leave something for black actors and actresses to work with after founding the Negroes Peoples Theatre in New York.  In her unlikely pairing with the upstart Welles makes for a wholly interesting reminder that creative partnerships and that magic can come from almost anywhere.

Both actors have excellent chemistry with one another and are pivotal in advancing the narrative and making us believe that what at first felt farfetched could not only happen but actually thrive under the right circumstance.  We see these two creative forces needed to find each other at just the right time in their lives.

It makes sense that Welles looked on this experience so fondly because If anything; Voodoo Macbeth is a testament to the creative spirit that rings true in anyone who gets in this business and it serves as a reminder that it ALWAYS takes a village because none of us can do it alone; even if you are Orson Welles.

Voodoo Macbeth is playing on screens in New York and LA now before expanding out to other screens across the country.

And check out our interview with stars Inger Tudor and Jewell Bridges Wilson below!

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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