Lady M's fading from the scene is another reason the production picks up in the second act. Derek McLane and David Lander's sets and lighting pull off a nice coup with the Central Park trees popping up as Birnam Wood and Rick Sordelet's stylized fights give us something different from the usual clanging and hacking. Most revisionist is Kaufman's rendering of Malcolm as proto-fascist, replete with jackboots and a 1930s standing microphone as he addresses his troops.
But even the political statement falls short of potent contemporary analogy. Kaufman wants the man-made horror of war without losing or downplaying the spooky supernaturalism of the witches and their spells, and the two detract from one another. Yes, he opts to leave Banquo's ghost to our (and Macbeth's) imagination. But the Act III "witches cauldron" scene is as hokey as they come.
Isherwood is wrong if he thinks the Scottish play can't also be a war play. But he's right if he means it can't be both contemporary real-world polemic and Halloween ghoolery at the same time.