Review of Folger Library’s Macbeth
The Folger Shakespeare Library production of Macbeth was unrivaled by its made-for-film counterparts in general quality. Though it was challenged by the obvious limitations of a filmed play (limited special effects, live and unedited, set changes, etc.), it overcame these handicaps by virtue of clever choices in staging and set construction, the deep understanding and ability of the actors, and special and sound effects tailored to theme and interpretation. The overall effect of the theatrical production was that of a unique and inspired interpretation of the Scottish play.
Macbeth starts out powerfully, mixing freeze-frame scenes of Macbeth’s epic battle against what appears to be an entire Norway battalion with the mysterious lines of the macabre, grotesque Weird Sisters. In this way, it gives an assertion of the witches’ power, seeming to claim that they are the source of all this discord and violence, and already beginning to set the play up to portray a sympathetic Macbeth. As the play progresses, it increasingly lends itself to depicting a relatable Macbeth character through subtle effects choices. The ghastly lights cast on him during his first soliloquies, the ominous percussive noises that appear with any supernatural figure – all subtly encourage credibility and weight for the argument that Macbeth is only a victim of forces far beyond himself.
Ian Peakes, the actor playing Macbeth, portrays Macbeth as a man forced to perform evil acts to satiate his own clamoring ambition: a victim of his own nature. The woman who acts as Lady Macbeth, Kate Norris, seems more than willing to complement this interpretation of the role by being a very hardened Lady Macbeth. Tortured though she eventually is by her part in Duncan’s murder, in the beginning, she is as cold and tough as can be. On the whole, her Lady Macbeth is a very negative one, one that has coerced and twisted her...