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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: September ::
Re: Globe Macbeth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2098  Tuesday, 4 September 2001

[1]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Monday, 3 Sep 2001 11:46:48 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2086 Re: Globe Macbeth

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Monday, 03 Sep 2001 23:19:40 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2086 Re: Globe Macbeth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Monday, 3 Sep 2001 11:46:48 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.2086 Re: Globe Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2086 Re: Globe Macbeth

I too disliked the Globe Macbeth in many ways. I saw the production in
previews and found that the concept did not entirely work.

However, I did understand that the approach of the production was to
unsettle in an experimental way. The witches worked I believe - to a
certain extent but not entirely - because they were placed in a
different context than the usual "hags with a cauldron" conception.
Their "nerdy" dress made them outsiders, and made the audience feel
uncomfortable as to how we should feel about them. It is debatable
whether the characters were originally intended to induce pure horror,
or whether they were merely "outsiders" and perhaps even objects for
scorn - hence "weird sisters", with the double connotation of strange
and its etymological origins of "fate". Sort of like the stereotypical
gypsy with a crystal ball. I did not like other concepts, like the
golden blood in the pail, to represent Duncan's blood and agreed with a
review that that particular substitution did not induce horror but
merely confusion.

I did like some of the humor that Jasper Britton brought to the role and
found some of it to be revelatory. "I am a man again" was particularly
hilarious and effective.

However, Middleton has only been attributed as interpolating the Hecate
scenes, which were not in this production...

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Monday, 03 Sep 2001 23:19:40 -0400
Subject: 12.2086 Re: Globe Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2086 Re: Globe Macbeth

I have just returned from my annual pilgrimage to The Globe and wife's
shopping trip to Bond Street.  Guess which I found to my liking.

I cannot bring myself to join the raves for Cymbeline and the generally
universal condemnation of the Scottish Play.

As for Cym, the cast (led by Mark Rylance) tried hard but were hampered
by as many stylistic innovations as burdened the Mac cast, and even more
difficult ones.  Six actors dressed in identical costumes playing 25
characters plus supernumeraries is insufficient to work with for a play
having so many linguistic and plot complexities.  Rylance carried it off
best, making his characters -- Posthumus, Cloten and Cornelius --
distinct personalities. a la "Stones in His Pockets."  But since
Posthumus and Cloten are never on stage together, this is not so hard to
carry off.  (I speculated here a few months ago that these characters
were doubled originally.)  And even Mark forgot the speech
idiosyncrasies he gave to Cornelius in Act I when it became necessary to
reprise the character in Act V.  None of the other actors even tried to
make rational sense of their shifting roles.

The result was a disjointed and uneven production which reminded me of
nothing so much as Branagh's "Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy."  The
percussion accompaniment added nothing to comprehension.

As for Macbeth, I confess to having enjoyed the performance, but not as
a Shakespearean one.  The jazz was much to my taste; but, that aside,
reciting the Witches' doggerel to jazz or hip hop or anything else does
not detract from anything Shakespeare, or Middleton, or Gary Taylor, put
there.  Doggerel by any beat means the same.  (By the bye, Hecate was
cut.)

My main objection to this production is that it almost completely loses
to internal lives of the characters to highlight their public personae.
Macbeth (Jasper Britton), for example, delivers his "If it were done
when 'tis done ..." speech while sitting on the apron giving the
groundlings what he thinks is a didactic explanation of the play ("we do
but teach bloody instructions").  In fact, of course, this speech is a
masterpiece of free association -- Macbeth does not know himself where
it will lead until he says the words and that makes him think of other
words:  "Bank" (i.e., bench) makes him think of courts and "cases" and
"judgements."  They also bring to mind schools, especially in
conjunction with "shoal," and, so, "teach[ing] bloody instructions."
But the way Britton did it made it appear to be a lesson plan or plot
synopsis given to the audience half way through for their better
understanding.

I am a little surprised to find nothing in SHAKSPER about The Globe's
final production: King Lear, which I found to be the most rewarding of
the lot.  If this production doesn't put "PAID" to the notion that KL is
un-stageable, it comes as close as anyone has a right to expect; and I
saw it on a partly cloudy afternoon.

Only Edmund played to the Globe's proclivity to try to make to audience
an active participant, at one point taking a vote as to whether they
preferred him to go with Goneril or Regan.  (On the day I saw it, the
clear preference was for Regan, a busty blonde.)

If audience response means anything. I note that Cymbeline was very
sparsely attended, Macbeth filled about 1/2 to 2/3 of the yard, and KL
had them packed in -- all afternoon performances, but to be fair, Lear
was on a Sunday.

Larry Weiss

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