Let's just lay our cards on the table: Folger Theatre's new "Macbeth" is a blast. With several sleekly executed illusions, an actor of magnetic, action-figure bearing in the title role and a trio of witches so ghoulish they could've arrived from the set of "Pirates of the Caribbean," the production's creators have come up with the closest thing to a popcorn tragedy.
You might have heard that the practical magic of this "Macbeth" has been supplied by Teller, the silent, diminutive half of the irreverent magic act of Penn and Teller. It turns out that where Shakespeare is concerned, Teller is a true believer, and the tricks he's adapted for the play are integrated in a thoughtful, thoroughly reverent way.
The play's preoccupations with prophecies and apparitions make it absolutely fair game for a professional conjurer. And the attention that Teller and co-director Aaron Posner lavish on the text ensures that the conjuring tracks with the intent of Shakespeare's poetic imagination. Nowhere is this achieved more thrillingly than in Macbeth's "dagger of the mind" soliloquy, for which Teller and magic consultant Matthew Holtzclaw design a mirror trick that gives a beguiling concreteness to the subconscious of a butcher-in-training.