Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Macbeth (Lyceum Theatre)

BOTTOM LINE: Beam me up, Macbeth. A slightly pretentious and self-indulgent interpretation of Shakespeare's classic. Really only for HUGE fans of Patrick Stewart and die-hard Shakespeare fanatics.

All right. I'm going to start this post by saying that I LOVE Shakespeare, Patrick Stewart, and edgy new interpretations of classical work. That being said, I'm going to go out on a limb here and just say it. I didn't like Macbeth.

When I went to see the latest production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, recently transferred from a limited run at BAM to its new home at The Lyceum Theatre, I was expecting a night of mind-blowing, engrossing, extraordinary theatre. It has everything going for it: huge star power, an intriguing story, and enough buzz to fuel a bee hive, but I was sadly very disappointed.

Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men fame, tackles the title role of the disgruntled Scotsman in this version of the Bard's classic which was produced at England's Chichester Festival Theatre, before crossing the pond to New York. While Stewart has been a part of nearly every play in Shakespeare's cannon, I'm a little sad to say that, in my opinion his performance in this play was nothing to write home about. The producers are probably banking on Stewart's name to lure people to sit through this three hour tour, but they might be a little unsatisfied.

The fault doesn't lie with Captain Picard. While his performance is a little self indulgent, it's not bad. I just don't think that it's worth the $101 ticket price and maybe was better off at its cozy home in Brooklyn. It's said that Macbeth is a cursed play, since Shakespeare used real witches' incantations in the text of the play. Productions are rarely successful and often riddled with catastrophe, and I think that this version is just a little too big for its britches. The show is set in Stalinist Russia, with little to no explanation or justification for the change in setting. Instead of helping to clarify the actions of the characters in the play, it really only slightly confuses the matter by incorporating a working elevator, Russian folk songs, and rapping witches. That's right, I said rapping witches.

Now I know that I might be in the minority of people who don't go wild over this production, but I'm all right with that. (If you think otherwise, let us know.) I thought there were moments of greatness- among them Kate Fleetwood's Lady Macbeth which was consistently off the charts, and the witches (despite the techno rapping) were pretty darn creepy. But overall, I thought the rest of the performances were all over the map. I appreciate that this production might get a new crowd to experience Shakespeare, but I just wish that it were a little better. I'm proud to say that it's all right if you don't like a production of Shakespeare's work. It doesn't mean that you're not educated or cultured. It just might mean that it wasn't that great.

(MacBeth plays at The Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th Street, from now through May 24 2008. Weeks beginning March 31, April 14, April 28, May 12: Tuesday - Saturday at 8pm, Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm; Sunday at 3pm. Weeks beginning April 7, April 21, May 5: Tuesday - Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2 and 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. Week beginning May 19: Tuesday - Saturday at 8pm, Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm. Ticket Prices: $51.50 - $101.50. Call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200/(800) 432-7250.)

1 comment:

Shlomomio said...

I caught Macbeth at BAM a few months ago and have to agree. I thought the production was fairly pretentious as well as incredibly and unncessarily loud. Patrick Stewart's presentationally perfunctory performance aside, to me, the play was high on style but low on substance. Not that it was all bad - there were definitley several cool directorial touches that took me out of the play long enough to say to myself, "Nice," but, ultimately if I had been emotionally engaged in the story or by any of the characters, cool directorial touches would have enhanced my experience of the play, not taken me out of it.