This is what theater does. It creates an occasion. It presents a mood. It is larger than life yet it fully contains it. It is what you see and what you hear and how these elements combine to conjure feeling.
Boil, boil, toil and trouble. The weird sisters (one which was a man) were flying nuns with fantastical scrim headgear—as well as convulsing, premonitiate figures. Macbeth was insane. Lady Macbeth was opportunistic and driven. Her sleep walking scene was especially effective. I’m not sure I bought the female casting of Banquo (not a fault of the actress, who was quite good and powerful, especially during the ghost scene). No, it was the choice in general. I expect Lady Macbeth to be the sole woman of agency in this world of men. I’m not sure that a female Banquo made sense to me, nor added to the story.
But this was a small thing.
At times—and this is when Shakespeare makes me shudder—I get lost in the language. I hear phrases I haven’t heard, or noted, or remembered from previous encounters. There were a couple of unexpected moments if humor. In context, these made me uncomfortable. We’re laughing? Now?
This time I was engaged. This time I had certain expectations. This time we unpacked the play on the walk to our cars, Julie catching some things I didn’t.
I like that the director said she liked what she saw. It’s important that even a difficult, devastating play like Macbeth is still embraceable by its director. This means there’s hope for connection the audience. OK, I wasn’t connected 100% of the time. I wasn’t transported like I have been before—for Our Town, for instance. But I appreciated this world, this work. I appreciated the effort to present this story of greed and gore and the balance of drive and over-determination that can (does) get out if hand. I feel for the fool that Macbeth becomes, not thinking the premonitions all the way through—the riddle of them, the warning. I feel for MacDuff—and this subdued MacDuff in particular—when he learns of his murdered wife and children. In a moment, hid entire legacy is wiped out. That scene kills me every time.
So there you have it. Or I did. A powerful theatrical experience on a Saturday night. Different, but not necessarily more moving than a lovely meal in my friend’s sister’s home, he nine-year-old twin daughters reciting poems. Pie and ice cream. The contrasting of the real and the surreal. The beauty of small gestures, like saying grace before a meal. The intensity of large gestures on the bigger-than-life frame of a proscenium stage—and the smallness of the character’s mind that manifests them.