Monday, March 03, 2008

The Haunted

The New Yorker Review of Macbeth with Patrick Stewart at BAM by John Lahr

Among the many contemporary things that Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” exploited in its day—the accession to the throne of the first Scottish king of the British Isles; the King’s fascination with witchcraft; the climate of terror that followed the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament—the most significant for us is the Elizabethan public’s newly acquired appetite for hair-raising eloquence. “It was addicted, one might say, to the fortissimo eloquence of inner lives magnificently tortured,” Ted Hughes writes, in his introduction to “The Essential Shakespeare.” To the verbalization of tragic frenzy, Rupert Goold’s inspired modern-dress Stalinist version of “Macbeth” (starring Patrick Stewart, at BAM’s Harvey Theatre) adds a scenic and sonic frenzy that is symphonic in its orchestration and its penetration. Goold’s brilliant production team—with Adam Cork’s soundscape; Lorna Heavey’s smash-cut video and projections; Howard Harrison’s moody lighting design; Anthony Ward’s brutalist set—unsettles the senses and sets the stage for the deracinated and the uncanny. It infuses Macbeth’s crepuscular world with the kind of fear that makes your tongue taste of brass.


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