Most of Shakespeare's plays stretch out for a few hours because in Elizabethan England there was no TV; each individual play was its own block of primetime entertainment. But 400 years later, the modern attention span's a little shorter, and so many productions of the Bard's works are trimmed here and there to accommodate our sensibilities. Director Jason Cannon has taken this practice and transformed it into a narrative tool. The University of Missouri-St. Louis Department of Theatre performs a one-act, 85-minute version of Macbeth that Cannon has pared back to rawhide and blood. Lord and Lady Macbeth's overweening ambition and murderous ways still lead to guilt, ghostly spirits still tear at the edges of Macbeth's sanity and a bunch of people get hacked to death — so all the good stuff remains intact. Macbeth is performed at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (April 2 through 11) at the Touhill Center for the Performing Arts on the UMSL campus (1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-4949 or Tickets are $5 to $8.
Thursdays-Saturdays. Starts: April 2. Continues through April 11, 2009

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