Saturday, October 19, 2013

Macbeth – Kenneth Branaugh Style

St. Peters Church - the venue
I missed Macbeth on the opening night so I went to the Encore today.

The Shakespearean plots are dense.

There are easier forms of entertainment – ones that require less work. As I was sitting in the performance I was wondering what it is about this production that I could say. Why should anyone want to see an old play performed in a deconsecrated church in Manchester, England?

Kenneth Branagh as Macbeth Photo: Johan Persson

1. Go because the tickets for the run of the play sold out in 9 minutes

2. Go because the staging is fun – the actors travelling up and down the centre of the church. The 600 viewers, whose faces we often see, mesmerized. They gave the company a standing ovation – many times over. It was hard to sit in the theatre and not join them in their clapping.

3. Go because some of the lines of the play we already know – and it is good to see them in context: Out, damned spot! out, I say / Fair is foul and foul is fair / There’s daggers in men’s smiles / Out, out brief candle. Life’s but a walking shadow / etc. It is good hear the quotes in their original context again

4. Because a couple of times as I was watching I was thinking, oh, I am so glad this is a play and not real, for it seems so real, so horrifyingly real.

5. Go because the acting is exquisite and in the movie theatre you get fabulous close-ups and terrific angles when the camera tilts, either down or up.

6. Go because if you can hang in there until there is the pounding at the castle door, you will see a brilliant piece of comedic humour. Voice and body humour. It caught me at the first line – I was giggling and laughing outloud and couldn’t contain myself. By the time it was over I had to keep my hands on my mouth I was laughing – oh those Shakespearean jokes – so shockingly inappropriate. I know I shouldn’t laugh but I can’t help it.

7. Go because here is a chance to see horror from the 16th century in a way that makes me connect with four centuries of thought about ambition gone wrong.

8. Go because the costuming was beautiful – even if you didn’t catch a word that they said, there was a feeling that you were watching the Scots so many years ago.

9. Go because the soundtrack was riveting. I was wondering if Leo had seen the show and what he thought of the drumming. I was conscious of it often – and the amazing lighting in the “is this a dagger which I see before me” scene. 10. Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff – a big wow to both. Macbeth in her mad scene, wiping her hands of the blood and Macduff when she was trying to save her life – and the scene with her son, setting the audience up for the scene of the killing. And the pain when Macduff finds out that they are dead – dramatically extended and made into such an exploration of grief.

I have seen Macbeth many times in my life--read it, seen it on the stage, seen it at the movies.. But not this Macbeth. I am going back again for the Encore on Tuesday

Once was not enough.


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