...In a production by Moses Kaufman that is both bloody and elegant, Macbeth proves to be a very, very good idea indeed.
The Baldwin production was almost entirely stolen by the Banquo of Liev Schreiber, who was just beginning to make his reputation as one of our best Shakespeareans; here, he provides a fresh look at the Scottish soldier king. Most Macbeths, in my experience, have been rationalizers, turning the idea of murder around in their heads, jumping through logical hoops to convince themselves that they act rightly. Schreiber will have none of this; his Macbeth goes with his gut, reaching for Duncan's crown almost instinctively--and, later, as the bodies begin to pile up, recoils from his deeds in an equally visceral fashion. At moments, he almost seems to be physically sickened by the blood he has spilled. (When he says, "Macbeth shall sleep no more," you really believe it.)
Offering the sharpest possible contrast is Jennifer Ehle's coolly beautiful, supremely rational Lady Macbeth. Every inch the political wife--dressed by Michael Krass in a white strapless gown seemingly lifted from Eva Peron's closet--she positively beams with warmth and good will, even as she plots the death of Duncan. Clearly convinced that only one violent deed will purchase her the world, she convincingly disintegrates as one murder leads to another, and then another. In one of the evening's most striking images, after the killing of Duncan, she enters, her arms stained with blood up to her elbows, looking for all the world like gloves to go with her evening dress. ...
Jennifer Ehle as Lady Macbeth also has mixed success. She has the stern and beautiful bearing of the popular girl nobody really likes; she’s the first Lady Macbeth I’ve seen who made me think of how complicated her relationships with all the other wives around town must be. But her hunger - for the crown, a child, or whatever - never seems alive to us. The character’s calculation is played so relentlessly that anything else there might be is choked off. Like all those pretty popular girls, Ehle mostly just makes us feel indifferent in the end.
Dann verwischen die Jahrhunderte. Macbeth und seine stählerne First Lady (Jennifer Ehle, Tochter der britischen Theaterlegende Rosemary Harris) kommen in dieser Inszenierung als Glamour-Paar daher, wie frisch den Klatschblättern entsprungen: jung, elegant, Champagner trinkend und immer sexy, selbst mit Blut an den Händen. "Brad und Angelina geben Interviews - in iambischen Pentametern", schrieb der Kritiker Charles Isherwood dazu.
So, Macbeth has now closed. What a month! No doubt there will be leftovers about it trickling in, but we'll be returning to regular programming soon. Get ready for bi-daily posting of ancient news and eBay roundups.
Thanks to everyone who's contributed reports, reviews, links, tips, photos, scans, moral support and other useful things. Special thanks to the folks at the Public Theatre for being super helpful and friendly.
PS. Looks like John Ehle's The Land Breakers will be in stores on July 21st according to Press 53. There will be a press conference at Borders.