I am sitting here in my dressing-gown, the
morning after, trying to get my thoughts straight.
We had a bit of struggle to get to the theatre, which involved a lot of standing on trains and walking the MK end, but we made it in time with not much to spare. Imagine first our horror when the announcement came that "due to technical difficulties, tonight's performance of Macbeth will be ,,,,," (no, don't cancel it) then our relief when they carried on "25 minutes late". Phew! That gave us time for a stiff drink on Sean's behalf and a visit to the loo etc. :-)
MK is a nice theatre. Large and spacious and comfortably laid out. There were lots of large school parties so we were worried that it might be a restless audience, but they all settled down (apart from some coughing and the occasional sweet wrappers going). The rest of the audience was made up of a proportion of 'ladies of a certain age' as Abbie brilliantly put it.
Ed Hall came on stage to apologise for the delay. The gist of his message was that even by his own standards, he had managed to create a complicated setting for the play and consequently where most casts had plenty of rehearsal time together in the theatre, including dress performances, this production hadn't and so this was, for all intents and purposes, THE dress rehearsal. He said if it came to a grinding halt, anyone got hurt or any other mishap, he would leap up on stage and try to get things started again. He need not have worried. If he hadn't said anything, I wouldn't have known it was their first cohesive performance.
The play starts with lots of noise, smoke and action. A very atmospheric beginning which worked brilliantly. The three witches come over very well and they sing an eery and haunting song, which adds to the mood.
The play had a very militaristic look and some of the soldiers' uniforms made them look Eastern European. Yet by the end of the play it seemed firmly rooted in Scotland, with England as a supportive neighbour. Sean's uniforms were a mix of leather and traditional, and for a lot of the time, as a soldier, he has a kind of black, see-through string vest thing which goes under his armour, possibly to represent chainmail. Big boots and baggy trousers completed the look. However, he also does one scene in a dressing gown and bare feet and one very sexy scene with the three witches in which he is bare chested (and very lovely!).
The actual stage scenery had a stark and metallic feel to it and lended itself well to the inside and out of Macbeth's and Macduff's castles. The stage effects were superb: a really clever fire that lit and died at will in the middle of the floor, lots of knolling bells, screeching owls, battle noise and smoke etc. The lighting too was well done.
The play sets a cracking pace and keeps it up for the whole two hours. It really moved along fast and was exciting. There is a short interval. Sean, Samantha Bond and Julian Glover are the three stars, no doubt.
Samantha Bond is a wonderful Lady Macbeth. Attractive, sexy, strong and quite frightening in her determination to steel her husband's resolve and carry out the initial murders. She and Sean work wonderfully together.
I loved Sean's performance. OK, so I am biased, but his delivery to me came over naturally and easy to understand. He really seemed to have understood the flow of the language and managed to put so much expression and feeling into it. His scene with the dagger 'before him,' which could easily have been corny, was quite brilliant, as was the scene where he sees Banquo's ghost.
I can't wait to see it again. The general feeling in the audience seemed to be that it was an entertaining and exciting production. The woman in the row in front of me remarked to her friend that it was the best thing she had ever seen at the MK theatre. Sean can be very proud of himself - he is very good and the audiences will love it.
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