This review can be read in full at Annie' The Bean Pool site. Many thanks to Annie for permission to reprint here.
Saturday, November 2, 2002
First off, I just want to say that if you can in any way make it to a show, do it! Lie, cheat, steal, sell your car, your house, your first-born, whatever. It's fantastic. Not only because you can see Sean Bean's talented acting in person, but also to see the other actors, costumes, sets, and great audio and visuals that went into this play. Everyone involved poured an immense amount of creativity and vision into making the world of Macbeth a cold and brutal one, with an ominous, constant feeling of apprehension. Now, I hadn't ever seen MacBeth done on stage before, but from my limited experience I thought it was very well done.
And so it begins...
Okay, so getting there was fun, first of all. The theatre isn't the easiest thing to find, especially if, like me, you're new to London and how crazy the streets can be. Fortunately I knew where it was from trying to get there the Monday before. (Got totally lost, was late, missed the show... etc etc...) It had been raining all day, so you had to deal with crowded tiny sidewalks and trying not to poke out everyone's eyes with your umbrella. Meanwhile, you're dodging all their umbrellas too. Fun fun! I finally had to duck into the theatre really early, since my umbrella simply gave up and started leaking.
An hour before it started, people started to gather in the lobby of the Richmond Theatre. It's a beautiful theatre, with a deep red carpet everywhere, and lots of wood or white-painted woodwork, beautifully carved, and touched with gold. A little out of the way and hard to find, as I said, but once you're inside it's very beautiful. A lot of the Buffs (Bean Buffs - a message board if you didn't know) started meeting up in the lobby. Nona came in, and I tapped her on the shoulder to say hi. I think she was pretty jet-lagged, she gave me a look of "who on earth is this person?" LOL. It was a lot of fun to meet up with so many people that I've seen on the message board, including Nancy, Karen, Bonnie, Sam, Sarah, and more. Everyone was so happy to meet up, and we chatted excitedly right up until the play started. Nancy was entertaining a lot of us with stories about London and about previous performances, since she'd been going all week to Macbeth. Lucky! The Buffs are really some of the nicest, sweetest people I've met.
I heard one guy in the lobby say, "Wow, there's a lot of women here." Obviously he wasn't aware who was in this play. :)
My seat was in the second row, off to the right side. A great view of the actor's faces, though I wouldn't be able to see their feet or anything. That's okay, I'll live, right? A couple other Buffs were near me, and some right behind, so we kept right on chatting until it started. I don't even know what we talked about, I think we were just too happy to be there. Then the lights dimmed a little, and I knew from reading previous reviews that when the show started, the lights would be going down with a Bang! So you'd think that having this prior knowledge would make it less jolting when it happened, but nope! Sitting there waiting... and waiting... and waiting for them to crash down made me jump about 10 feet in the air when they finally did - being by the speaker didn't help!
The play started off with a thin gauze black curtain hanging in front of the stage, and the three wierd sisters materializing off the ground behind it to dance around the fire. Very cool. Then the battle starts, and suddenly... there's Sean! First thought was, it's Sharpe meets Sean Miller. A tough black mesh/net top, brown sleeveless long leather coat, sword in hand... Here's where my review breaks down... Wow. Very wow. The entire production, from the great sound/lighting, to the fights, the acting, etc etc just had a great feeling of uneasiness, always being on edge. Sean and Samantha were amazing, and Julian Glover totally impressed me as well. They spoke their lines not only as if they had always talked that way, but really feeling them. Wonderful delivery, perfect diction.
Costumes and Set:
The costumes were not period, nor were they modern. They, and the set, had a vague, timeless feel to them - kind of modern, but not exactly. Very cold, very tough. The set was mostly made of what looked like a dark, worn metal.
Samantha wore some elegant costumes, from a grey satin nightgown to a beautiful, rich green dress. The others wore either leather or military uniforms.
Sean had on the black mesh top for a lot of the play, combined with different leather pants and jackets. At one point, the wierd sisters visited him in his bedroom, and he was shirtless for the entire scene (with the sisters seductively moving all around him). He normally has a very lean build, but obviously he's been working out his upper body... after the play, I was next to a group of British teenagers on our way out the door, one of whom (a guy) blurted out to his friend, "Dude, Sean Bean is STACKED!" That was just too funny!!
Obviously, Sean, Samantha, and Julian are experienced actors who really took this play to heart, and it showed. Sean and Sam were excellent together. The first scene with the two of them, Sean literally rushes her around the bed, with an intensity that was making the poor audience melt in their seats. I was impressed at how the tension between them was played... very intense and passionate at first, then fizzling out as the play goes on. When Lady Macbeth's conscence started to overwhelm her, pushing them apart, you couldn't help but feel so terribly sorry for the both of them - you could tell that they only had each other, and they were feeling desparate and lost. The other actors were not quite as good, but still very gifted actors. I wasn't sure about MacDuff, who seemed a little out of place at first, but he grew on me towards the end.
It seemed that everyone used their natural accent in the play, including Sean. He spoke loudly and clearly, and it worked very well with the lines - I didn't have any trouble making out what he said.
The effects were very slick! I loved the transitions between acts where the lights flickered and thunder boomed all around us. It just gave a great feeling to the play. And the model of Sean's head was really realistic (sounds kind of sick, I know). When it was stuck on the spike it even made a little squish sound that almost made me start laughing. Um, by the way, I hope you already knew the story to Macbeth.... *ahem* .
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