Sunday, April 19, y
In the theatre production of ‘Macbeth”, directed by Charles Roy, we see a modernized version of the play, set in 20th century Syria, with a young but experienced cast. The contemporary take on Macbeth is fresh and original, but still holds true to the plays original values and themes. The cast was able to clearly illustrate the themes and characters, without watering down the play. The intense fight scenes and dynamic noises and special effects were able to keep the attention of easily distracted teenagers in the audience. Charles Roy definitely made some noticeable changes to the play, some I liked, and others I was not too crazy about.
The main change that this production of Macbeth has made is the fact that the play is modernized. Since this timeless Shakespearean tragedy was written in the 1600’s, some of the lines spoken directly contradicted what was on the set. For example when Banquo was killed in Act 3 Scene 3, The First Murderer said, “His horses go about.” (Line 13), while on set there were motorcycles. Knowing that the play was modernized this was an easy connection to make, but for some people, it could make for some confusion. Also, the play is set in Syria rather than Scotland, making the references to Ireland and England seem very outlandish, considering the distance from Ireland to Syria. Another difference is the fact that Duncan was killed on stage. This addition to the play is something I have mixed feelings about. It helped with the understanding of the play, but took away from imagining what happened and from the tension that comes along with imagining. Another major change from the book to play of Macbeth is the absence of “fair is foul,foul is fair”(Act 1 Scene 1). Since the supernatural is a substantial and meaningful theme in Macbeth, leaving out the base of the theme, really made it hard to follow the theme and underplayed the supernatural. Over all, I was not a fan of the changes to the play, as some took away from the understanding of the play, while others took away from the suspense and imagination. One thing I was a fan off were the special effects. The writing appearing on the walls helped connect scenes and characters to major themes through out the play, and also emphasized words or phrases that have to do with the characterization. When the word ambition appeared on the wall during Macbeth’s aside, which helped to connect the theme of ambition to Macbeth, as the aside is revealing his inner most thoughts. One thing I would have changed in this production was the set. It did not change at all for all of Act 1, even though the setting changes from the battle field to Duncan’s castle, and they relied mostly on special affects rather than objects. The set was basic, but the cast was able to work efficiently with, and that is a testament to their talents.
The casts ability to play multiple characters and to display a character’s personality and motifs was very impressive. Lauren Dobbie, who played Lady Macbeth, had a captivating performance. She made the character change from a ruthless and ambitious women to a women filled with guilt, who could not carry on knowing what she has done crystal clear and seamless. She worked with the props very efficiently, like using the bath tub to emphasize how her hands will never be clean, making it easy for the student audience to comprehend the major theme of guilt and its connection to Lady Macbeth. A change in speech was most noticeable in the witches. In some versions of Macbeth, the witches have a eerie, raspy voice, which helps the audience distinguish them as evil or supernatural, but in the play they spoke like the rest of the cast, which could have been misleading if you had heard dramatic recordings of the play. The porter scene was executed very well, and was perfect comic relief. The drunken, humorous mood of the porter got the audience re-engaged with the play and laughing, while reliving suspense from the murder of Duncan. This version of this scene was spot on to our groups analysis. It clearly got across the theme of equivocation and the symbol of the Macbeth’s castle as hell. Something interesting to note character wise is that Donalbaine is not found in the production.
Charles Roy’s take on Macbeth is original, has some downfalls but also has lots of positives. It compares well to a production of Macbeth I saw earlier this year, and proves that no matter where the play is set in, the major themes like ambition play a role in periods of time and places. I enjoyed the play for the most part, especially enjoyed the acting, and thought it was a perfect length and in a beautiful theatre. I definitely recommend seeing this classical theatre project of the Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth.