Oct 12, 2007

Harlequin's Macbeth: the rundown

We went to see Harlequin's production of Macbeth last night, thanks to friends who happen to be season sponsors. Overall we were quite pleased with the performance, which captures the power and terror of The Scottish Play. A brief rundown:

  • Andrew Heffernan is flawless in the role of the title character. He portrays Macbeth's moral instability and transformation from sympathetic hero to desperate evildoer with nuance and charisma that never borders on camp.
  • A simple stage, effective use of underlighting, a pulsing score, and gritty costumes set a dark and dismal mood. The appearance of Banquo's ghost is particularly noteworthy.
  • Strong supporting characters, including several capable amateurs, back up Heffernan's tour de force. The Porter steals several scenes, Macbeth's wife goes convincingly mad, and the Weird Sisters are as creepy as they ought to be.
  • By Harlequin's and Shakespeare's standards, this one's brief, clocking in at nearly three hours.
  • The graphic, Hollywoodesque murder of Banquo is more than a little overripe: lying lifeless on the ground, he springs back up to fight again before finally getting waxed.
  • MacDuff's son's part gets split with a daughter. Sure, it's defensible, but come on. Let the little "egg" have his scene.
  • Can no one affect a decent Scottish brogue?
  • The porter's rant, calling out lawyers, parking attendants, and urologists while shining a flashlight on the audience, is a major rupture in verisimilitude. This may be a matter of taste, but I found it distracting.
When you add it up, you'll see that the minuses are mostly quibbles. Shakespeare's most human villain deserves the powerful treatment Harlequin provides. Macbeth plays through the 27th, and is well worth watching.


Andrew said...

Hey Decorabilia: Appreciate the kind words about my performance as MACBETH. It was a hell of a lot of fun to play! Good blogging, and take care; if you're interested, check out my other life qua. blogger on all things fitness-related--Andrew

Andrew said...

Oh, and interesting thought about the Scottish Brogues. I actually thought about that: should I--and the cast--try to do the whole thing in Scottish dialect? But it seemed like a stretch: for one thing, the dialect is hard to understand, and to add that on top of Shakespearean language seemed a lot to ask of an audience. But perhaps more significantly, we weren't really doing the play in Scotland per se: the costumes certainly weren't Scottish, for instance. And nothing in the look or feel of the show (flags, insignia, mannerisms) were deliberately Scottish. So I/we thought that doing a dialect would be superfluous, and possibly a distraction. We are in "Scotland" by name, but it could actually be anywhere.

Jim Anderson said...

And thanks for stopping by. I'm actually with you on the dialect decision--that was more of a pseudo-complaint. In general, I fear I'm overly fond of the brogue.