Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Scottish Last King of Scotland

On Friday Rachel and I (along with a couple of Rachel's coworkers) went to the Guthrie (yay working for nonprofits!) to see their production of Macbeth, by you-know-who. The Guthrie is fond of doing Shakespeare in... shall we say, interesting ways. I knew that this was going to be no exception when the first scene of the play was filled with machine gun fire. People were coming down zip lines while firing automatic weapons, Macbeth and company were engaged in a swirling melee with pistols and knives, and the setting was a ruined church or other gothic structure.

Apparently the Guthrie was going for a "Last King of Scotland" approach to the play as everything was set in modern times and everyone wore clothing that would best fit a tyrannical small African kingdom that had Western ambition. The involved fight scenes cropped up many times in the play and occasionally were a bit too much. Simple actions like Macbeth having his goons take out a rival's family became drawn out combats, and the assassination of Banquo took far too long to get to the end. It was when the fight scenes left something to the imagination that they became really convincing- like when the three goons close in on the rival's daughter and the lights go out. Chilling stuff.

The lead himself wasn't the most convincing figure. When he was decided on what he was doing he was great- an imposing, dangerous figure who nobody should mess with. It was the parts where he had to decide what path to go down that were rather unfulfilling. It just felt too much like a light switch- there wasn't any drama to the decision at all.

Still, the rest of the acting was spot on, and the scene where Banquo's spirit haunts Macbeth was AMAZING. The Weird Sisters were well done and had plenty of special effects back up to make them seem otherworldly and powerful. The very end was also very well done, grim and surprising, though I won't spoil it. Think of the ending of "A Brave New World" except upside down...

Until next time...

"How curious and interesting is the parallel--as far as poverty of biographical details is concerned--between Satan and Shakespeare. ...They are the best-known unknown persons that have ever drawn breath upon the planet."
- "Is Shakespeare Dead?" by Mark Twain

No comments: