Film, theatre, arts, events - review it here


Postby Barry » Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:53 am


A double whammy today as I got to see the new theatre, and also a stunning distrubing production of Macbeth. But first the theatre, well there's enough remaining and many acknoweldgements of the much loved and much hated theatre. I loved it, and like the fact that they have used the floorboards from the original stage to line the foyers. The huge new tower seems a bit of a folly - rather unecessary and only a few people can use it at a time, and only when organised. I can't help feeling that the money could have been used elsewhere. There is a lot of space, but the gardens seem a bit threadbare at the moment. the beautiful avenue of trees has gone, but the theatre still sits there commanding attention next to the river. The foyer space has not yet all been utilised. there seem to be odd unresolved areas. Inside though, well it is the Courtyard but better. It is hard to recognise it as the same space that I have spent so many areas. It feels familair but only because it is a larger version of the Swan and Courtyard. They have certainly made some committment to change to area into a thrust stage. I'm not sure, but it looks as if there is no going back. I'm not sure if the thrust stage sinks. This will change how the plays are done forever, mainly for the better. Without a doubt it puts the whole emphasis on the actor but at anyone point half of the audience will be seeing that actor's back. A lot of the success will depend on whether the audience will embrace beign part of the action. Certainly I do, and the front row is fantastic. But some people are quite happy to sit there and watch from behind a glass, as it were. You cannot help be involved especially when the actors are standing in the audience next to you, and, as was the case with Macbeth, getting splattered with blood. the designers are going to have to be very creative, and getting furniture and dead bodies on and off will always now be a cause of ingenuity. Here in Macbeth they resolved the bodies by having Seyton as some sort of guide, opening doors and allowing the dead to walk off. The history plays may not allow that so easily. A big theme of Macbeth was of the evil living with us...all through this production were the constant reminder of the damage done to us by such as Macbeth. Dead children, and dead adults, were constantly lurking, watching, judging. These same children were the witches, though I hate writing the word witches. I'm so glad that we have grown away from representing these characters as evil old cackling hags (thoguh I fear my local theatre, The Garrick, would take the easy route). It's odd how we can't accept witches any more but can so easily accept theatrical conventions such as the dead watching, and ghosts and apparitions. It is as much about the celebration of the artifice of theatre than it is about the supernatural. These children made their first entrance (not with 'double double toil and trouble, which had gone) to confront Macbeth and Banquo, dropping from the flies in nooses. A very distrubing image. When they were the Macduff children, the girl was taken off stage by one of the murderers. No one else seemed to catch the distrurbing signifance of this. I wonder how they explained that to the child actor. But the production really played on distrubing childlike images.....the act Four visions were broken dolls and dolls falling from the flies again. I liked them being part of the armies, and being the Birnam wood tree bearers. Lady Macduff had a tree for this scene, and after the death of Macbeth she planted it in the stage. Some hope suggested, which was reinforced by some smashed church windows that got boarded up, being opened again with new glass. (though surprisingly for the RSC, this was pretty bad stained glass...very am dram actually). A satisfying metaphor. The whole production was very satisfying production, with very little furniture as it's just hard for it to be brought on and off. Some flying worked here but won't work in all productions. Yes we came away very disturbed and thrilled, though most of the reviews dismissed the production as a new theatre showing of ts bag of tricks. No, it was much more than that.

It still amazes me that 37 plays have changed the world and are the basis of such an industry. I wish though that half the tourists wandeirng round Stratford would actually go and see a play, and think about why there are there.

Continually screening on an exposed part of the old auditorium was a rather basic and unimaginative cartoon of Will Shakespeare writing his Complete works. It reminds me of another more sophisticated (and not so cheap looking) animated film. Perhaps letters to Michael Boyd at Stratford should be written to play these two films in rep.

Shakespeare - thanks. And if you didn't write the plays, 'tis no matter. They are still good plays. And always will be.
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