Friday, December 2, 2016

Kevin's Performance Review of "Macbeth"

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I originally intended to attend King Lear in Salt Lake City, but after Professor Burton mercifully provided a much more convenient and less expensive alternative--viewing one of the Globe Theater's on-demand filmed performances--I decided to watch Macbeth, as I have previously read this work with a partner earlier in the semester.

In the comfort of the Harold B. Lee Library, I was able to sample a morsel of the famed Globe Theater's magic. While I'm certain it cannot compare to actually being in England, it was an enjoyable  experience nonetheless. Here are a few of my observations and attempts at analyzing this impressive performance:

1.) Character/performer analysis - The actor who starred as Macbeth played his role with great passion. He portrayed a mighty man racked with guilt for his heinous transgressions. He was literally sweating profusely at times, a large vein protruding from the side of his head, eyes red and bloodshot; in a heart-wrenching moment, after Lady Macbeth's death is announced, he weeps out of his love for her. Two more examples: he kissed his wife intensely after committing to their plans, but he nearly strangled her when the pressure mounts later on in the play (Lady Macbeth, in the following scene, has bruises all over her arms, neck, and face--quite alarming!). Everything he did was emotional, whether it me in movement, speech, or expression.

2.) Stage movement and effects - One of my favorite liberties the performers took was interacting with the crowd. My English 292 professor, Dr, Peter Leman, once related to us an experience he had while viewing a play at the Globe Theater (in fact, he got to lean on the stage while he watched!), specifically pointing out how excited he was when the cast members singled out members of the crowd when reciting lines or ran between them during action scenes. I looked for that, and I found that this cast, too, included the audience in the performance. They would point at individuals and run around on the ground area. One of the cool things about seeing it filmed was I got to see the delight it brought to the audience members faces when these interactions occurred. 

I liked how, in a dialouge-heavy play, the made sure to move the actors around the stage to keep up a feeling of progression. During one neatly designed scene, they had actors up in the balcony areas all around the circular theater shouting their lines. The effect it created made the whole stage seem to expand and be much bigger than it really is. The fight scenes weren't Jason Bourne-level by any stretch, but they were well-choreographed. 

The "special effect" I liked the most was the musical elements they brought into the story. They had drums to build intensity, violins to soothe, and knocking noises that effectively did its job of bugging the heck out of the listeners. I went back and viewed the script, and many of the musical insertions--including the Catholic chants and hymns during the coronation ceremony--were all experimental adaptations.

3.) Interpretation of script - The play was way funnier than I anticipated. After all, Macbeth is categorized as a tragedy. Even in serious moments, the actors would be rather humorous in their depictions of what was happening. I wonder if that was common in Shakespeare's time as well or if they just stuck to the script. 

In the script, it never has two characters talking simultaneously. However, they did during the performance. I was following along on my Kindle app while the play streamed, and I was fascinated to see how they broke up the dialouge--speeding up and slowing down--adding meaning. Because I was following along, I realized they did a scene out of order (they did Act 3 Scene 6 before Scene 5). I guess they thought it made more sense to do it this way because it wasn't out of necessity--it was right after intermission. 

This is supposed to be a "brief" analysis, so I better wrap things up. I liked it (although it got long in the middle with all the back and forth between Macduff and Malcolm), and I'd love to someday see one live in London.

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