Monday, April 07, 2008

Rupert Goold's "Macbeth"

Saw this Macbeth at the Lyceum yesterday, with The Quarterback, and his theater friend from college. Garbed in Soviet uniform, the production took place throughout in a white-tiled basement, with steel kitchen sink, fridge, radiator, hospital trolleys, TV, and an old-fashioned elevator opening and closing its grille-jaws like hell's mouth.

Some of the scenes were brilliantly re-imagined. The bloody surgeon was rolled in on a trolley, by three nurses who then revealed themselves to be the witches. While Macbeth convinced the murderers to kill Banquo, he made himself a sandwich, a part of which he ate, before offering it to the murderers. Breaking bread and feeding one's bloodhounds at the same time.

Other scenes were terrific because of the acting. Michael Feast, playing Macduff, was utterly moving when he received news of his family's massacre. Brilliant throughout the play, Kate Fleetwood made Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene compelling and complex.

This production was chilling in its depiction of violence and dictatorship. It called up familiar but still horrifying images of body bags, interrogation, and torture. Macbeth's bloody head, held up by a triumphant Malcolm at the end of the play, could not but evoke Al-Queda beheadings. In its focus on horror, however, the production seemed to simplify Macbeth. None of Patrick Stewart's soliloquys sounded unexpected depths. He became a monster, but not, quite, a man.

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