2003 August 6


Saw the Macbeth on the Common with Brad last night. I think this is the first time I've actually seen it performed on stage -- seems sort of surprising, but when I think about it there's a lot of Shakespeare I haven't seen performed. I've mostly seen the comedies.

The production was decent; the first act was pretty rocky, and I started thinking I was in for some pain, but the performances grew on me. Mostly they did, anyway -- I still wanted the witches to shut up every time they opened their bombastic mouths. Macbeth himself was good though, thank god, and Banquo was excellent. Lady Macbeth herself was fine, but it was hard to feel any real relationship between her and Macbeth -- mostly they just yelled at each other. Having seen Scotland, Pa. a couple weeks ago made me want to see the two of them truly in love.

It's funny. Nobody seems willing to stage a Shakespeare play in period costume -- I can't think of the last time I saw one that didn't try to transpose the time period. It often works, I think, but this time I think the modernization just sort of flopped around on stage distracting from the play. Everyone was dressed in South American banana republic style, but they still kept jarringly talking about Scottish places and mediaeval titles. And moving things to the 30s just made the supernatural element of the witches seem more out of place. As written, Macbeth is a mediaeval story, and updating it to the twentieth century needs more than just giving bicycles to Macduff's kids.

The set was full-on, with dozens of lights, two manned spotlights and big speakers. Wasn't expecting that -- Shakespeare by the Sea does its shows in the park with nothing more than the occasional flashlight.

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