The Humor Behind Toil and Trouble: Pygmalion’s Weyward Sisters Brings Levity and Wordplay to the Salt Lake City Stage

The Weyward Sisters
, by local playwright L. L. West, is a quaint journey through a never-before-seen side of “Macbeth” that is both hilarious and refreshing, with the three leading ladies carrying the story brilliantly through to its conclusion.  The play starts out with a brief introduction – a bit of a “Shakespeare for Dummies,” during which the entirety of “Macbeth” is rapidly summed-up with great wit and a short PowerPoint by Barb Gandy and Natalie Keezer.  Though this rapid-fire retelling may be a bit redundant for those who are most familiar with The Scottish Play, for anybody who has never seen it before, or for whom it has been a while, it is essential to what unfolds — a backstage look at three “good” witches who have been hired to act in a new play by William Shakespeare, whom they know only as The Brad.

The true story of The Weyward Sisters wastes no opportunity to jump headfirst into humor with the gifted Betsy West, who as the feisty, short-tempered Leandra opens the scene and sets the mood of the show.  She is struggling to remember her lines when one of her companions, Skye (Ali Lente), the high-strung mother hen of the pack, arrives on scene to explain the complexities of Shakespearean verse.  Chaos erupts when Fioon, the third of the trio, played by the incredible Tamara Howell, sweeps in and rearranges the entire scene, ruffling all of Leandra’s feathers. Anyone who has a fondness for verse, and for language in general, will find this a delightful scene, and there are many moments throughout the play in which a lover of Shakespeare will feel moments of recognition while relishing in in the humor of the show.  The way West plays with language is refreshing, particularly because it seems to refuse to take itself too seriously, adding yet again to the levity of the piece.

Director Jeremy Chase has also done a brilliant job with The Weyward Sisters, staging it in such a way that attention is drawn to the right character at the right time, even during complicated scenes in which people are spinning and swearing and spitting offstage, abiding by theatrical superstitions.

Ali Lente, Betsy West and Tamara Howell in L.L. West’s The Weyward Sisters

All in all, the way the play comes together pays homage to the work of Shakespeare, and feels as if it could sit nicely within the timeline of “Macbeth.”  It brings levity to what is one of his most intense dramas, and modernizes it in an approachable and lighthearted way. The Weyward Sisters is a refreshing take on a classic piece of theatrical history, and is presented wonderfully by its gifted cast.

Pygmalion Production’s The Weyward Sisters, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, through November 18.

Categories: Theater

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