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[personal profile] riontel
Saw Lincoln Theater's production of Macbeth yesterday. It was a grand spectacle. The sets were elegantly spare and moodily dark, with an interpretation of "The Seal of God's Truth" mandala etched into the center of the stage. Few moving components, tables, stairs and the like, were used to sketch the scene, with more of the effect achieved through clever lighting than through an actual decor. Costumes were chic and sleek, Lady Macbeth in a black strapless gown (!), with lots of studded leathers for the war scenes and three-piece long coat suits off the battlefield for the men. Not a kilt in sight. The overall color scheme was very much to my taste, black on black with a rare splash of red and silver.

As a contrast to everybody else's elegant attire the gender-bending Witches and Hecate were somewhat appropriately dressed in tattered rags and sported bizarre makeup and hairdos. And there were a bit too much of them, more than what you would normally expect, if you were just going by Shakespeare's text. They acted out some of the parts, like the sergeant, the porter, the third murderer, etc. They were lurking and cavorting in the background and through the scenes, and generally suggesting a much more active role in the events. Hecate, who normally has just a bit part, was all over the thing, which made her complaint of not being included in the original scheme with Macbeth rather puzzling. And in addition to the three expected witches there were some other witch-like characters crawling around the stage, not serving any artistic purpose that I could discern. Not sure what was up with that. The witches + Hecate + the other creatures were just a tiny bit over the top.

The acting was uneven, Shakespeare sure doesn't come naturally to everybody. Unfortunately it came least naturally to Macbeth himself, played by Ethan Hawke. Hawke can act, and overact in spots, but clearly pronounce his lines, not so much, at least not so that anybody past first row could catch. Malcolm, on the other hand, was loud and clear but couldn't act. I rather liked the neurotic Lady Macbeth, I think Anne-Marie Duff did a decent job of her, and they had good chemistry with Hawke. The rest of the cast were good as well.

It was a contrast to the Globe's faithful production of "Twelfth Night", with their authentic costumes, setting and music, but riveting in its own way. The atmosphere, sets, costumes, great music, strobe lights and projections, were very cool. Director's vision - quite interesting. Acting, not excellent but mostly good. Few suggestions: trim down Weird Sisters, nix the Hecate and teach Ethan Hawke to speak above a whisper and deliver his lines (mumbling "tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" - so not cool). Overall very enjoyable but not of the standing ovations caliber.

Date: 2013-12-19 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ireznikov.livejournal.com
Interesting... I felt the opposite, Ethan Hawke was screaming too much in my opinion. But that was around Thanksgiving, maybe he's gotten tired by now.

Date: 2013-12-19 05:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] riontel.livejournal.com
He did scream few times, but that didn't make his delivery any more intelligible. The idea, which evidently nobody conveyed to him, is to project one's voice, not scream or whisper, and absolutely no mumbling. Did you like it though?

Date: 2013-12-19 05:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ireznikov.livejournal.com
I liked it, overall.

American directors and actors can still present Shakespeare better than Chekhov (I saw "Ivanov" last year) or a Russia-related play ("The Coast of Utopia"). More believable. I didn't get the costume discrepancies though. Military clothing from medieval times vs civil clothing which looked like it came from 19th century. If there was a hidden message, I didn't get it.

Date: 2013-12-19 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] riontel.livejournal.com
I sort of agree with regards to Chekhov, but I don't like his plays in general, so not a good judge. We saw "Uncle Vanya" last year (with Cate Blanchett) and it was painful. On the other hand, this year's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike", which was a wink towards "Uncle Vanya," was hilarious and excellent in every respect.

I've seen horrible local Shakespeare productions as well, for instance, this year's "Julius Caesar" at BAM was so bad, we left midway.

Date: 2013-12-19 06:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inka.livejournal.com
The idea of Ethan Hawke as Macbeth amuses me to no end, and every Groupon or Livingsocial (I forget which one) daily digest in my mailbox is feeding exactly that.

Date: 2013-12-19 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] riontel.livejournal.com
I had my doubts about him as well, and rightfully so, but surprisingly he didn't look bad in the role, just sounded really bad :) I got interested because of who was directing, and that didn't disappoint.

Date: 2013-12-19 08:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inka.livejournal.com
To me he always looks kind of unclean, which should be ok for Macbeth actually :) Maybe it's because I don't like his looks, his acting seems exactly the same to me regardless of the part.

Btw, did you see the Slings & Arrows (a canadian TV series about a theatre troupe staging various Sheakspeare plays)?

Date: 2013-12-20 05:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] riontel.livejournal.com
I've only ever seen him in Gattaca, which I really liked and, incidentally, just realized the style of the play (set design and costumes) was very reminiscent of the movie.

Haven't seen Slings & Arrows, will check it out.

Date: 2013-12-20 06:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sthinks.livejournal.com
I second this recommendation. Slings & Arrows is charming :)

Date: 2014-01-27 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andreylv.livejournal.com
Slings and Arrows are really, really, really lovely.

(Just one bit of advice - if it doesn't draw you in right away, give it until you've seen first three episodes. Some people felt that the show starts a bit too slow.)

Date: 2014-01-27 06:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andreylv.livejournal.com
I thought about that production... and decided to pass. Maybe the reason was that I didn't like Gattaca :-) I am looking forward for Macbeth with Branagh.

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