Tag: BAM

Boldly going to Macbeth

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 | All Things, Arts

At the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater tonight for Rupert Goold’s justly celebrated production of Macbeth. The show makes its way to New York City for a (sold-out) five week run from England’s Chichester Festival Theatre and a sold-out West End run that earned Evening Standard Theatre Awards for the director and lead actor Patrick Stewart.

Anticipation has been high for the stateside transfer after the lavish praised heaped upon this production by the usually reticent British critics: The Evening Standard‘s Nicholas de Jongh pronounced it the “Macbeth of a lifetime“; The Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer called it the “best Macbeth” he had ever seen – this from a man who presumably has seen a lot of Shakespeare.

BAM Harvey

BAM Harvey

What could I possibly add to all the rave reviews? Anthony Ward’s stark, grey-washed set generates a fitting level of eerie foreboding throughout as it multi-purposes as war hospital, a kitchen and a morgue. The visual projections on the back walls ranged from documentary footage of Stalin’s marching armies to dark, dripping blood, adding to the unsettling atmosphere. There were so many moments and performances to admire: Kate Fleetwood’s fiercely sexy take on Lady Macbeth… the innovative staging of Act III’s banquet scene: first as viewed through the guilt-crazed eyes of Macbeth, and then replayed after intermission from the perspective of his guests… the “weyard sisters” making their first appearance as preternatural field nurses, rap-chanting their “Double, double toil and trouble” spell amid zapping lights and booms of thunder (well, that may have been a little gimmicky)… the unbearably drawn-out, horror-stricken silence that follows when exiled future king Macduff (Michael Feast) is told the news of his butchered wife and children…

And of course, it hardly needs to be said that Stewart was sublime as Macbeth, making even the simple act of making and eating a sandwich completely menacing. And yet, for all his unchecked ambition and grand, brutal scheming, when he delivers the famous “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” soliloquy in Act V, it is with the world-weariness of a soldier ready to head home.

Macbeth cast

This production deserves a wide audience, which it may get if speculation of a Broadway transfer proves true. If that happens, I would make but one suggestion: pipe in Alexander Courage‘s Star Trek fight theme music during the final Macduff-Macbeth showdown. Hey, it worked brilliantly in The Cable Guy.

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