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16 June 2014 @ 08:30 pm
Lay On, Macduff: Macbeth at the Park Avenue Armory  
I'd gotten tickets for these awhile back but I got a chance this weekend to see Macbeth at the Park Avenue Armory starring Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston.


This is the production that came over from Manchester, directed by Branagh and Rob Ashford. I'm guessing that since the Armory space is a lot larger than the church in Manchester, the stage design might have gotten expanded a bit. Overall, it was incredibly atmospheric and wonderful. Branagh and Ashford did some pretty theatrical effects throughout such as the rain effect at the start of the play with the battle to the fire that came up from the ground when Macbeth went to see the Weird Sisters a second time. And yet there was also some very simple and yet evocative imagery that was so very Branagh like the tables parting for Banquo's ghost, Duncan's funeral procession, and my personal favorite use of shadows to create the effect of Birnam Wood moving toward Dunsinane. The entire look of the play was very beautiful to look at and reminded me why Branagh is one of my favorite directors working. He also used his usual go to composer Patrick Doyle to score the incidental music, which was also beautiful and perfect for the production.

This is my second time seeing Branagh on stage live and the first time I've seen him do Shakespeare and it was brilliant. Macbeth, as a character, is not at all a hero. However, I felt like Branagh gave him a very believable hero-like portrayal in many ways. I've seen productions of Macbeth before but this was probably the first time I experienced something akin to admiration when hearing Macbeth's final words to Macduff. When Branagh's Macbeth shouted, "I will not yield!" despite knowing the Weird Sisters' prophecy had all come true and he was about to die, I felt a bizarre desire to cheer despite knowing he'd massacred a herd of people throughout the play. Macbeth will go down fighting because strangely knowing his fate was sealed made the world simpler for him once again, like when he had been a simple soldier following orders. Macbeth might be a poor king and a poorer friend, but he knows how to fight and he will do it to the last breath. Again, I sort of knew I shouldn't be rooting for him and yet in that moment I did. So well done, Sir Kenneth.

Overall, I'm so glad I got to see this production. My friend and I are going to try to do rush tickets later this week for one more viewing.
 
 
 
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 17th, 2014 02:20 am (UTC)
I have a soft spot for Macbeth because my friend and I wrote a modern version that basically turned into a parody for an English class assignment, and the drama club ended up performing it with me directing, and it was seriously one of the best experiences of my life. My job was translating the Shakespeare into 'English' and my friend made it funny, basically. I feel like I speak Shakespeare really well now because of it.

I'm glad you enjoyed seeing it! It sounds very cool. I bet Kenneth Brannagh is amazing live. He's one of those people, like Tom Hiddleston, whose passion and enjoyjment radiate out of him, so I bet it's even better when he's right in front of you.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on June 18th, 2014 12:24 am (UTC)
my friend and I wrote a modern version that basically turned into a parody for an English class assignment, and the drama club ended up performing it with me directing, and it was seriously one of the best experiences of my life.

That sounds very awesome! I wish my English class assignments were this fun.

I bet Kenneth Brannagh is amazing live. He's one of those people, like Tom Hiddleston, whose passion and enjoyjment radiate out of him, so I bet it's even better when he's right in front of you.

He was pretty great. At the start he seemed a bit restrained but later on I realized he was conserving his energy for what came toward the end.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 18th, 2014 12:48 am (UTC)

That sounds very awesome! I wish my English class assignments were this fun.


As I recall, it was an asssignment we made up. There were a list of choices of assignments for each Act, and we asked if we wrote a modern version of each act, would that work, and the teacher agreed. She was an awesome teacher. She also stayed after school a few times to help supervise rehearsals of the play. She was tres cool.

And the drama teacher let us have a key to the drama room to rehearse whenever we wanted, and made sure we had a space to put on the production and everything. It was such a good experience. I loved it.

He was pretty great. At the start he seemed a bit restrained but later on I realized he was conserving his energy for what came toward the end.

I cannot imagine the energy it must take to do something like a three hour play every night. No wonder the entire cast of Frankenstein got pneumonia and David Tennant threw out his back doing Hamlet.
aelfgyfu_meadaelfgyfu_mead on June 17th, 2014 09:01 pm (UTC)
So jealous!
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on June 18th, 2014 12:24 am (UTC)
I'm really hoping this one somehow ends up on a DVD somewhere.