Friday, June 30, 2006

Must dash

But look, new photos from opening night! and blog from someone who went to the gala.

Thanks to Josie for these!

Suxors and roxors

There's no pleasing some people. Michael Sommers of the Star Ledger hardly likes anything about Macbeth. But it's ok, he hasn't liked any other production of it either. Jacques Le Sourd of The Journal News only sees black as well.

However! From Writing with Zest:

The short review: OMG It r0x0rs! Why I feel the need to type bad L33T: No clue.

I have seen some bad Shakespeare in the Parkin my time. Just becase some big, famous actor or actors are in it doesn't mean the thing is oing to be any good. Twefth Night 4 years ago? Worst. Production. Evar. Where is John Carroll when you need him? Anyway, I didn't get my hopes up too high even though Liev Schreiber and Jennifer Ehle play Macbeth and his Lady. It might still have been bad Good thing it SO wasn't. It was the opposite of bad times ten. So, so good.

Read on to see why her loins go "HELLO, Dolly!".

Over at Press 53 they've got the proof of John Ehle's The Land Breakers ready. Check out the info about the launch at On the Same Page.

Mad hot

Pictures from opening night are up at Getty Images and Wireimage. If those links don't work, just go to the Getty and Wireimage home pages and search for Ehle. Will try to get some without watermarks. Check out other photos from the event as well, mega star wattage in the audience as onstage.

And lo! The Charlie Rose interview is now available for free at Google Video, thanks to some sponsorship thing. Here's the transcript.

[edit: Playbill has a photo call, none of her but there's a shot of Julianna Margulies and others]

[subliminal message]Please buy Tuesday's Women's Wear Daily and share![/brainwash]

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Open captioned Macbeth

The Public Theatre's site says that there will be an open-captioned performance of Macbeth on July 2nd. The Sign-interpreted one is on the 9th.

"Brangelina Gone Bad!"

The New York Times review is out, written by Charles Isherwood. The Brangelina reference can be read in the full text.

The meticulous craft of their performances comes, therefore, as no surprise. Mr. Schreiber and Ms. Ehle speak Shakespeare's verse with a natural grace and clarity, a seduction to match their looks. (Ms. Ehle is seriously ravishing in her chic dresses by Michael Krass.) Drawn into an intimate relationship with their characters by means visually glamorous and aurally alluring, we should shudder all the more at the contrast between good looks and bad acts, verifying the doomed King Duncan's observation, "There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face." The problem is that in Moisés Kaufman's elegantly wrought production set in the tumultuous early 20th century, the Macbeths' murderous rampage unfolds at an oddly stately pace. Blood flows regularly, but as if dispensed from silver taps. In the end neither Mr. Schreiber nor Ms. Ehle seems fully to inhabit the darkness of their characters, despite — or maybe because of — the fastidiousness of their interpretations.

A dense thoughtfulness has always been a hallmark of Mr. Schreiber's Shakespearean turns, and it is here matched by Ms. Ehle's nuanced delineation of Lady Macbeth's gradual disintegration. But together and separately they remain cool customers in a play that demands something closer to ferocious heat. The play's dark vision should colonize our imaginations with terrifying images of the havoc wrought when man's baser nature unleashes its darkness, making unnatural all that it touches. Spooky sound effects notwithstanding, this production never really gets under your skin.
Lackluster performances in most of the supporting roles compound the problem. Varying from competent (Mr. Foster's Duncan and doctor) to bland (the Banquo of Teagle F. Bougere) to strident (Florencia Lozano's Lady Macduff), the actors rarely command attention, leaving Mr. Schreiber and Ms. Ehle to provide virtually all of the dramatic firepower.

That they don't quite deliver enough has less to do with their talents than with matching actors to roles. Mr. Schreiber and Ms. Ehle offer finely detailed portraits of complex people breaking apart as their murderous acts reverberate in their minds and in the world around them. But at no point do these fine artists seem possessed by their slightly supernatural characters. We leave impressed by the dedication of actors to their craft, not hollowed out by a hair-raising encounter with two of Shakespeare's darkest and most disturbing creations.

Click to see the large version of this photo by Sara Krulwich. There's also a photo of Liev Schreiber you might want to see, ladies.

Hold on, the NY Sun also has a review by kill- Joy Goodwin.

Far less ominous is Jennifer Ehle's unprepossessing Lady Macbeth. With her porcelain complexion and golden curls, Ms. Ehle looks uncannily like a young Meryl Streep. When she first appears, in a World War I-era bright pink gown, it's hard to imagine that venom could be lurking beneath those rosy cheeks. (She couldn't be further from Judi Dench's iconic Lady Macbeth, she of the dark head scarf and shift.)

Playing against all that pink might have proven an interesting choice, but Ms. Ehle seems to have trouble building steam.Lady Macbeth is expected to work some angle on her husband - to seduce him, to ridicule him, to question his manhood. But there's no clear intention here. Ms. Ehle's performance gives no strong of Lady Macbeth's conflicted interior life; just a sort of basic mercenary instinct. Without some sort of duality to work with, the sleepwalking scene - usually the piece de resistance - makes no sense.

Opposite Ms. Ehle, Mr. Schreiber finds himself in the awkward position of a man trying to start a fire with steel and no flint.The play's intimate domestic world - which ought to be so full of frisson and danger - is flat in this "Macbeth." Only when the world of men and deeds comes into the domestic world - at the ill-fated banquet - do husband and wife snap to life.As the drunk Macbeth leaps onto the table, knocking off glasses, dazed by visions of the ghost of Banquo (the dear friend he's just had murdered), Lady Macbeth defends them both with uncharacteristic vigor.

Macbeth web media reviews

Let's start with a report sent by Katie Heape of Cincinnati (thanks!).

I just got back from a vacation to New York City. I saw Macbeth two nights in a row and I must say it was wonderful! I have never enjoyed Shakespeare more. It rained both days I was in line for tickets but it was worth it. Liev Schreiber was great as Macbeth. He played the part with such conviction. Jennifer Ehle was very convincing as Lady Macbeth. She was the perfect match for Liev. And I have never seen Jennifer look more beautiful. She looked radiant.

The first night I saw Macbeth it drizzled through most of the performance. But the actor's were troopers and the show went on. The stage was pretty wet just before the intermission and I was afraid that Jennifer would slip in her heels. But thankfully she didn't and the show was great. After the play was finished, Liev thanked the audience for sticking it out through the weather.

Now to the press. Bits mentioning Ms Ehle are excerpted.

  • Alexis Greene of the Hollywood Reporter is disappointed, pointing the finger at the war allusion:

    Kaufman is not the first director, and surely won't be the last, to use Europe during the 1920s and '30s as a metaphor for present disintegration. And maybe that is part of the problem. This overused reference has lost its intellectual and dramatic punch. We've seen it, we get it.

    What's more, the concept leads Kaufman into an anti-theatrical staging of a wonderfully theatrical play. The three Weird Sisters (Joan MacIntosh, Ching Valdes-Aran, Lynn Cohen), costumed in tattered, faded uniforms to look like the ghosts of soldiers past, are hardly the stuff to astonish Macbeth with their fantastic appearance or arouse fear in an audience. As for Schreiber and Jennifer Ehle ("Pride and Prejudice"), they play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as a striving, largely emotionless, 20th century couple.

    Still, this Macbeth falls apart much sooner than his wife. Schreiber's would-be king becomes almost physically ill after murdering Duncan (the ever-dependable Herb Foster), while Ehle consistently acts Lady M. as a woman so in control that it is hard to believe she would ever go mad.

    Schreiber, who seems to speak the verse effortlessly, has his most affecting moment when he sits in a chair, waiting for battle, and gives the "tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" soliloquy near the play's finish. But in this deflated vision of the play, the words sound merely like regret for plans gone wrong. That might be what the director intended, but it is considerably less than the moment of moral insight that Shakespeare wrote.

    In sum, the production shows us a failed attempt to hold on to power rather than the portrait of awful despotism that Shakespeare conceived.

  • Whereas there's a rave review by Matthew Murray of Talkin' Broadway.

    ... Forget Brad and Angelina and (especially) Harry and Kelli - it's in Liev Schreiber and Jennifer Ehle that the year's real steam heat can be found. As the lord and lady who share the name of the William Shakespeare classic they're currently setting ablaze, Macbeth, these two Tony-winning stars are cannily proving that the world's sexiest writer has been dead for 400 years.

    What might appear on the page as stuffy, stuffed pronouncements of ambition intertwined with lunacy are, in Schreiber and Ehle's hands, the sizzling pillow talk of a newlywed couple who haven't yet learned how to keep their hands off each other. They embrace and kiss only once, but it's heated enough to suggest that with these two, things are as bloody, brutal, and exciting in the bedroom as they are at court.
    As the stack of bodies grows - counting Scottish king Duncan, lateral lord Banquo, and the family of suspecting Thane of Fife Macduff - for this first time you see this couple's inner collapses brought about by crumbling of their impeccably kept external façades. Ehle, for example, is so understated during Lady Macbeth's rambling struggle to scrub her skin of her complicity that it's like hearing these oft-quoted (and frequently mocked) lines for the first time: Is she truly concerned only because she can't apply the proper foundation over dried blood?

    Hers is such an invigorating, smokingly fresh portrayal, that Kaufman's reluctance to invest equivalent originality in the rest of the production feels like a betrayal. But whenever Lord and Lady Macbeth aren't onstage, the action drops from a rolling boil to a bare simmer, with the artifice more visible and the pacing highly questionable. (Macbeth, Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and one of his shortest plays, should never clock in at nearly two and a half hours, as this one does.)
    The scenes the two [Macbeth and Lady M] share pulse with a passion that utterly defeats Kaufman's attempts to bring the rest of the play down to (and, in the case of the Sisters, below) Earth. They vividly and effortlessly communicate the erotic seductiveness of power, whether in the form of taking another's life or in reveling in one's own physical attractiveness. Very little else in this Macbeth says even half as much.

    Some naysayers respond in an All That Chat thread, and there's more owchiness at BroadwayWorld and the Liev Schreiber forum.
  • David Finkle for TheaterMania:

    The problem here is one of refinement, both in Schreiber's pellucid voice and the production surrounding him. Kaufman, in his first go at the Bard, has chosen to offer Macbeth as a kind of boulevard tragedy, which is something of a mistake. In this version, the savage husband and wife, whose individual guilty consciences kick in at different stages, are presented as a business-savvy couple out to seek a promotion from a vulnerable boss. Not that the blood doesn't flow; it certainly does. The busy Macbeths and their victims frequently show up dripping from what must be a sizable backstage vat of fake blood.

    Still, for too much of the play, Schreiber and fellow Tony Award winner Jennifer Ehle -- whose Lady Macbeth owes a good deal to Grace Kelly in High Society -- talk and behave as if their greatest collaborative ambition is to mix the perfect dry martini. Yes, Shakespeare perceptively portrays Macbeth as a man with the capacity to question his motives and Lady Macbeth as a woman who calculatingly questions her husband's misgivings. But no matter how analytic they are, they must also appear more cutthroat than Kaufman requires them to be.
    Indeed, there's a basic disconnect in both the concept and the production. The prelude, with stressed soldiers littering the stage, says "Iraq war" as blatantly as Fox News supports it -- yet, the rest of the play specifies the era between the World Wars. That sort of muddle is just one reason this Macbeth really doesn't work.

  • Rob Kendt for draws parallels with horror movies, no doubt to set up that "Knight of the Living Dead" pun.
    But these contemporary notes are sounded matter-of-factly, not insistently. Indeed, the strength of Kaufman's production is its straightforwardness—its surehanded mix of naturalism and the supernatural. While Schreiber traces a convincingly understated arc, from a brooding and distracted striver reluctantly pushed to "catch the nearest way" to a doddering monster with "a mind diseased," the cast and the production that surrounds him are admirably unembarrassed to go to extremes. Jennifer Ehle's Lady Macbeth, despite her blonde curls and womanly gowns, is unfailingly steely and sexless (and so reminiscent of Meryl Streep, in her look and her diction, that it practically qualifies as body-snatching). We may miss a few of the role's finer shadings, but her businesslike mien makes a perfect spur for Schreiber's wracked equivocation.

    There's also a photo similar to the Newsday one below.
  • Bgah!

    Curses to subscription content - rush out and buy Women's Wear Daily, dear readers! Look at this preview of "Portrait of a Lady".

    NEW YORK — Jennifer Ehle is one of those rare creatures whose ethereal beauty almost blossoms more from having her head shaved. But though her high cheekbones and sparkling blue eyes may benefit from the crop — for a part in the upcoming film "Pride and Glory" — it's probable her self-effacing personality doesn't appreciate the extra stares that result. For Ehle, despite her many accolades, is shy. So shy, in fact, that when she was a drama student in England in the late Eighties, the North Carolina native adopted an English accent "to camouflage myself," she says.

    Yep, that's all the free content! (Blue?!)

    Apologies for jumping to the Island of Conclusions and spreading the misinformation about the hair being for Macbeth. Obviously we don't know nothin' bout nothin'.

    "Shockingly persuasive"

    The first press review is in! Newsday jumps the gun with this absolutely glowing review of last Friday's preview.

    ... How thrilling to declare that the curse is off: The "Macbeth" that opened the Public Theater's free Shakespeare-in-the-Park season last night is gripping and elegant, and flies like the wind, even in the muggiest early-summer weather.

    Its nerve center is Liev Schreiber, simultaneously debonaire and heartsick, adding to our growing conviction that this actor can do anything he pleases with intelligence and whatever trumps "star quality" in our trash culture. With a large, stylish cast including Jennifer Ehle as a shockingly persuasive Lady Macbeth, Moisés Kaufman's production is poetically lucid and driven by danger: At last, a "Macbeth" for grown-ups.
    These are smart, fashionable people destroyed by ego and prophecy, not manipulative historic thugs who talk pretty. Michael Krass has dressed them accordingly, in incisively cut uniforms and tuxedos, modern-looking despite the swords and daggers. In her first scene, Ehle - with a golden wig of finger-wave curls and a well-turned everyday dress - suggests the seductive Faye Dunaway in a rich man's version of "Bonnie and Clyde."
    His Lady, for all her gory ambition, is no pushy shrew. Her sleepwalking scene bodes not just guilt, but also idealism lost. ...

    Click to see the big scary version of this.


    Have heard from the Lincoln Center that Jennifer Ehle is going to be in all three plays of The Coast of Utopia. Your genius of an editor didn't think to ask which roles, but anywho, joy!

    Nth Macbeth roundup

    First, Playbill interviews Liev Schreiber . My pick of the best bits (but it's all interesting):

    ...PLAYBILL.COM: What makes Macbeth the right role for you to perform now?
    LS: For the Public Theater, it’s a wartime play. It’s something that is topical to people. I don’t know if I respond to things in an openly political way. I just think they’re planted in your subconscious. For me, what’s fascinating about the character is the war that he wages in his mind—the interior battle of morality and conscience. It’s good stuff.

    PLAYBILL.COM: And how do you personally compare to Macbeth?
    LS: Well, I’ve never killed anyone, so that’s kind of a leap for me. But I certainly identify with the same issues of conscience. We all have ambitions and anxieties that get in the way of our daily lives. I think that Macbeth’s are just all-consuming.
    PLAYBILL.COM: What time period does the production take place in?
    LS: Our director Moises Kaufman is playing with is a period that draws its influences from The Great War. Because we’re a nation at war now, he wanted to perhaps draw and compare on past wars.

    PLAYBILL.COM: How does Kaufman compare to other directors with whom you have worked on Shakespeare?
    LS: Moises has an incredible visual eye and he’s the kind of person who’s inspired and driven by images. That, I think, for me, has been the defining trait of his direction.
    PLAYBILL.COM: Have any cuts or alterations been made to the text?
    LS: We have made some cuts and some amendments of text for the purpose of clarity and brevity, but nothing too big. ...

    Playbill also announces the opening of Macbeth. There's a (new?) photo of Mr Schreiber in uniform, plus the purple dress / bloody shirt one we've posted earlier.

    Now to launch into the blogosphere, starting with general views on Macbeth. On the critical end, ringelmatz was disappointed. On the positive end, Manda finds the play awesome and creepy. Damielle recommends it too, saying that it's warmed her up to Shakespeare after years finding him tedious. Some of her commenters liked it as well. Wyatt says both the leads were excellent and the play makes him appreciate having a non-murderous wife. Matt Johnston, an actor who's worked with Liev Schreiber before, digs the "World War 2 timeframe" and ponders on the similarities between Macbeth and his character Travis.

    Views on Ms Ehle's performance are mixed. Sasha, Robert and Carolyn aren't keen but the latter two like the staging. However, Limonene reckons she "nailed the quiet maliciousness and ruthlessness of Lady Macbeth (and wore pretty, pretty dresses)". Jira thought her especially remarkable.

    Finally, for Spidey fans, the Spider-Man 3 teaser trailer is out. Can't see if Rosemary Harris is in it because of dialup.

    Wednesday, June 28, 2006

    Coast of Utopia to Be Published by Faber and Faber

    From Playbill News

    Tom Stoppard's ambitious three-part play The Coast of Utopia, set to make its American debut at Lincoln Center Theater this fall, will be published by Faber and Faber on June 30.

    The 288-page volume will include all three of the play's parts: Voyage, Shipwreck and Salvage.

    Billy Crudup, Richard Easton, Jennifer Ehle, Josh Hamilton, David Harbour, Ethan Hawke, Martha Plimpton and the previously reported Brían F. O'Byrne will star in the U.S. debut of The Coast of Utopia, Lincoln Center Theater confirmed.

    The cast includes quite a few Stoppard experts. Easton won a Tony Award for his performance in 2001's The Invention of Love. Ehle won her Tony for the 2000 revival of The Real Thing. And Crudup first made his mark as part of the 1995 Lincoln Center Theatre U.S. premiere of Stoppard's Arcadia.

    Plimpton and O'Byrne are currently in the Broadway cast of Conor McPherson's Shining City. Hamilton most recently acted on the New York stage in Hurlyburly, which also featured Hawke, whose credits also include the LCT production of Henry IV (where he co-starred with Easton). Harbour won a Tony Award nomination for the recent Broadway revival of Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

    In Utopia, O'Byrne will play the mid-19th century Russia radical theorist and editor, Alexander Herzen. Stephen Dillane essayed the part in London. Crudup will play literary critic Vissarion Belinsky. Hawke is the aristocrat-turned-anarchist Michael Bakunin and Hamilton will be the poet Nicholas Ogarev. Easton, Ehle, Harbour and Plimpton will be featured in multiple roles throughout the three-part work.

    The trilogy will begin on Oct. 17 with the first performance of the first part, Voyage. All three parts will have opened and concluded their runs by March 3, 2007. The parts will open separately, one after another. They will begin to play in rep later in the schedule.

    Individual preview and opening dates are as follows:

    Part One – Voyage
    Previews begin: Tuesday, October 17
    Opening night: Sunday, November 5

    Part Two – Shipwreck
    Previews begin: Tuesday, Dec. 5
    Opening night: Thursday, Dec. 21

    Part Three – Salvage
    Previews begin: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007
    Opening Night: Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007

    During the final three-and-one-half weeks of the production's run, audiences will have the opportunity to see all three parts in succession. Also, on three Saturdays—Feb. 24, March 3 and March 10—theatregoers will be able to see all three plays in one-day marathons beginning at 11 AM.

    The play will have sets by Bob Crowley and Scott Pask, costumes by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Natasha Katz, Brian MacDevitt and Kenneth Posner and original music and sound design by Mark Bennett.

    Jack O'Brien, the Broadway director of Hairspray, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Henry IV and The Invention of Love, will helm the New York bow of the nine-hour Coast of Utopia triptych.

    The works first appeared under the direction of Trevor Nunn in 2002 at the National Theatre in England.

    The Coast of Utopia is centered on the political and philosophical idealism and debates of mid-nineteenth-century Russia, examining the movements that excited artists and thinkers in those days. The show moves chronologically on from the 1830s, when the great Romantic poet Pushkin was still alive and his epic poem "Eugene Onegin" was all the rage in educated circles.

    The main characters are the anarchist Michael Bakunin (played by Douglas Henshall in London) who was to challenge Marx (played by Paul Ritter) for the soul of the masses; Ivan Turgenev (played by Guy Henry), author of some of the most enduring works in Russian literature; the brilliant, erratic young critic Vissarion Belinsky (played by Will Keen); and Alexander Herzen (played by Stephen Dillane).

    LCT has produced Stoppard's Hapgood and Arcadia.

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    Jack O'Brien on Utopia

    This is excerpted from a 2003 interview with Jack O'Brien, who will be directing The Coast of Utopia.

    Q: Why are you interested in Tom Stoppard's play, Coast of Utopia, which deals with a subject and characters that most of us know nothing about.

    JG: And the history is unknown. I think in England, as well. Jack, does this worry you at all in making it accessible to an audience?

    JO: Yes, it does. In other words(and that's what I said) it's my job. And it's Tom's job. And we have to find a way to awaken an immediate sense of excitement and accessibility to you. There are a lot of characters in theater you don't know when you walk in the door. You think you do, but you don't. And, quite frankly, if they're not rendered in three dimensions, they don't grab you. There are other productions of this play itself that could be intolerable to you if you saw them not properly handled. And so I have to believe, as I inevitably do, in the quality of the writing. And when a writer, like Shakespeare, Stoppard, or Mr. Guare, takes their pen up, if it's interesting to them, I can't imagine it isn't going to be interesting to me. So I immediately put the onus on myself. It's my problem. But when I first read The Coast of Utopia, particularly the first play, I suddenly thought I'm seeing the essence of what Chekhov was doing but in a uniquely English rhythm. But it made me laugh. I thought it was deft. I thought it was witty. I thought it was sexy. I understood it. I had the great advantage of having people like Richard Eyre and Trevor Nunn do the initial productions. And I look at them and I think, mm, gee, that's not too good, is it? And I think, God, what would I have done if it were my assignment? I have the great advantage of learning these things again. And I'm hoping what happens is just that.

    Speaking of Utopia, Modern Fabulosity blasphemes excitedly at the thought of the play's "unbelievable, civilization-rocking cast" and warns that "tickets will be impossible to get, so plan your mode of attack now".

    Not that much on Macbeth. Adi Zukerman saw the rain show and imagines Macbeth-meets-X-Men. At Hawleyblog the play's found to be a bit of a downer despite Mr Schreiber's hotness. Meanwhile, there's some sort of controversy over at All That Chat about the rewrites of some parts of Macbeth.

    Tomorrow is the official opening of the play so no doubt the press as well as the Summer Gala bigwigs will be in attendance. All the best to the company - we wish them fine weather and enthusiastic critics!

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    Round two

    We're now getting some reports from people who've seen the show in early previews and returned a second time. Puck from Schreiber land:

    anyway, things were pretty much the same as before except jennifer ehle slowed down a LOT, which i assume most people will be happy about. it did help make her monologue much more understandable. i kind of liked it though when she was running through the lines. there was a lot more energy in it. this was still a pretty solid performance. i think liev was a bit less energetic this time around as well. the rain delay and the cool temperature seemed to set up a more laid back atmosphere that took some of the bite out of the leads' performances. but they were still very good, and god knows everyone was a lot more comfortable. several issues of motivation and the transition in the characters made more sense this time too, though i think it's just because it's the second time i've seen it, not because anything was performed differently. i appreciated the staging and the sound more this time around. maybe the timing was a little better coordinated, but i didn't feel there were as many awkward bumps this time around. good call on getting rid of those camo nets in the grand finale. i also realized how much they played up humorous lines in the midst of the serious scenes. i don't know if it's usually done that way, but the levity was well placed and welcome in a largely tragic play.

    And from Kerry who recommends repeat viewings:

    So I just saw Macbeth for the second time and it was AWESOME. Everyone had grown into their roles but especially JE. She seems way more comfortable and her performance is excellent. I went when it rained all day so it was very empty and I got to move up all the way to a front section. Didn't rain during the performance thank goodness. I jetted out during the curtain call and camped out for a picture with the fabulous JE. She was super spectacularly overwhelmingly nice to me - I was very nervous and I think it showed. She took a picture and got an autograph for my friend Terry!! Her hair is going in very cool. Walked out of the park with one of the witches - we talked the whole way about the show and how each night is different. If you went once go again - I might go a third time!

    Terry sez million thanks - even if T-i-n-a is the more conventional spelling! :P

    Are they seeing the same show?

    First here's an article by NY Daily News with and about Liev Schreiber. An excerpt:

    "Liev has an incredible amount of craft and talent," says Tony Award-nominated director Moises Kaufman, who's guiding "Macbeth." "The thing that's wonderful about working with these two," he adds, referring to Schreiber and Ehle, "is that their instruments are so finely tuned - their voices, their emotions. It's delightful to watch."

    Plus, the actor actually enjoys Macbeth, as a character. "I really like him," Schreiber says. "I think he's incredibly noble. Initially, his conscience won't let him kill Duncan, but when he does, his sense of nobility prevents him from blaming his wife. He's a great leader, but it's not enough. Once that seed is planted in his mind by the witches, the battle begins between his conscience and his desire."

    Another day, another wide spectrum of opinion on Macbeth: "serviceable, but ultimately disappointing" and worse vs "best Macbeth...ever seen" or even best Shakespeare ever. Columbia lit lecturer and author Jenny Davidson considered the "traditional" production "extremely well done" but has fainter praise for Ms Ehle. Others also had a variety of views on her performance - squirrelchaser at BroadwayWorld is critical and wonders if Lady Macbeth is downplayed deliberately, whereas Jim in the same thread, though "prepared to dislike her", thought the perf entirely appropriate and plausible - he also recommends that those who saw the play in early previews see it again. Meg thought she did a nice job and I liked this bit about how the rain enhanced the experience:

    We went amid a grey heavy sky. It was muggy outside and the sky looked like it was ready to release at any given moment. So we sat down for the play, and the lightest drizzle started. So very light. But perfect. Because when the play started, you could see this drizzle in front of the lights. And to hear the three Weird Sisters say, "When shall we three meet again/In thunder, lightning, or in rain?" was just kind of perfect.
    (My favorite part of the experience: When Liev stepped out and thanked everyone for staying the whole night... he said something like "Audiences like you make this worth doing. We're all amazed you stayed." I wanted to say, "Well, Liev, for one, you're hot. Two: It's a bitch to get tickets. We have to make the most of this when we can!")

    All in all, though, it was genius. Creepy, magnificent genius. And seeing it in the rain made the whole evening.

    Lastly and unrelatedly, this note on Pride and Glory's score is enough to make a publicist weep:

    [Mark] Isham will also score next year's Pride and Glory, which casts Jennifer Ehle in her first major acting role since Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth.

    Sunday, June 25, 2006

    Pride and Glory Expenses

    From Times Online.
    Farrell has to toil twice as hard as Morton bows out
    The Irish actor Colin Farrell has had to reshoot scenes in his latest film after the producers fell out with the British actress Samantha Morton, best known for her role in Jim Sheridan’s In America. According to the Hollywood press, Morton left the set of the cop drama Pride and Glory because of “scheduling conflicts”. But the director, Gavin O’Connor, and his brother Greg told Sue they both found it “impossible” to work with her and clashed with the actress over her homework for the role, which included studying life in an Irish-American New York family. The O’Connor brothers brought in Jennifer Ehle instead and spent more than €100,000 reshooting scenes with Farrell, Ed Norton and Jon Voight. The film, based on stories the O’Connors heard from their father, a retired New York cop, features Voight as the patriarch of a family of police officers torn apart by a corruption scandal. In further news from Luvvieland, Woody Harrelson has revealed that he wanted his third child to be Irish but was overruled by the missus. “It was between Italy and Ireland,” Harrelson told Newsweek. “I was pulling for Ireland, but Laura preferred Italy, so that was that.”

    Rough Schedule

    For the Utopia Trilogy, provided by Playbill News.

    Some of the top stage stars of our day have jumped at the opportunity to play 19th century Russia's top intellectuals. Either that, or they were just excited about appearing in a new Tom Stoppard play. The work is the huge, three-parter The Coast of Utopia , and it will star Billy Crudup, Richard Easton, Jennifer Ehle, Josh Hamilton, David Harbour, Ethan Hawke, Brían F. O'Byrne and Martha Plimpton.

    The thesps will work hard for their meal ticket. The three parts, called Voyage, Shipwreck and Salvage , will open on Nov. 5, Dec. 21 and Feb. 15, 2007, respectively. During the final three-and-one-half weeks of the production's run, audiences will have the opportunity to see all three parts in succession. Also, on three Saturdays—Feb. 24, March 3 and March 10—theatregoers will be able to see all three plays in one-day marathons beginning at 11 AM. Hope those guys get Sunday off on those weekends.
    Me too.

    Saturday, June 24, 2006

    Land Breakers cover

    Fans of Ehle père might be interested to know that according to Press 53, The Land Breakers is going to press this week and the cover is completed. The artist is Mike DeWeese, a NCSA grad.

    From film noir to Faye Dunaway

  • Listen to Liev Schreiber on Downstage Center. There's a lot on Macbeth.
  • Fishing in a Bucket criticises some of the production elements, but recommends it anyway.

    ...In the end, though, Liev Schreiber in the titular role was incredible. I was terrified that he'd fudge the "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech, one of my all-time favourite (and, yes, Shazz, I know you can recite it from memory), but he delivered it brilliantly; in fact, the whole play was done so well that I walked away feeling like I understood it more. That speech, in particular - I got it. I got where he was at, hearing the Queen was dead, and the inevitablity of the existential crisis which followed, albeit briefly. He loved her, the crazy old b---h.

    Speaking of the Queen: It was Jennifer Ehle!! (I expect excited emails and comments for this, please.) Now, I was predisposed to like her performance, and I know that some in our group were not as thrilled, and I'm not saying I was thrilled, but I'm saying I wasn't dissapointed. She was very... emotional. Is that the diplomatic word? I mean, a good part of her speeches were delivered with as much emotion as could be wrought. Thing is, I think this is fair, given the situation; and what I liked was, that, as I understand it, a lot of Lady MacBeths are played very cold and cynical, and, by playing it emotionally, this, to my mind, argued that the whole "un-sex" me speech didn't stand up; that it didn't work, that she couldn't escape her inhernt (womanly, emotional, arguably hysterical, and certainly consciencely-driven) nature.

    My point is: go see it. Dude. The bard? He rocketh.

  • Captain Yesterday finds that the 20th century transposition wasn't as intrusive as expected.
  • A spot of gossip:

    ...Liev Schreiber on his “Macbeth” and his sweetie Naomi Watts: “I think she finds it a little boring.

  • Kelly swoons over Mr Schreiber. Anna likes him and the play as well.
  • Despite sitting over the generator and near an annoying Google rep, David Clement says:

    Moises Kaufman's MacBeth is brilliant: engrossing, dark, surprising, relevant. It's like the best film noir ever. 3 hours felt like 20 minutes.

  • Wrote to the Delacorte requesting a seating chart and received word that one is not available because the layout changes quite a bit from show to show. Apparently there's not a bad seat in the house, however, given that it's stadium seating.
  • Patrick seconds the Faye-Dunaway-channelling interpretation:

    Liev Schrieber is commanding and engrossing as Macbeth in this first production this season of Shakespeare In The Park. Jennifer Ehle, whose voice and delivery reminded me more than ocassionally of Faye Dunaway, held my attention as Lady Macbeth even though she doesn't seem to have fully stamped the part yet. The production has been designed and costumed to suggest World War I, although that seems merely an aesthetic choice which doesn't impact the text at all. It is, at least, often visually striking. Moises Kaufman's direction is strong for the most part, with some clever use of the park setting among its merits, but he frustratingly flubs the big scene in the first act. Still, there's more than enough to recommend this production.
  • Friday, June 23, 2006

    Report from the Delacorte, part 2

    Hoorah for cross-pollenation of fandoms! dssm from the Liev Schreiber forum is now a convert. She's the one who provided the first ever Macbeth report and has just kindly sent in this autographed program from her second trip. Click to see the enormo version.

    dssm also has a report up at the forum. Mosey on by to see how she managed to get the above, and for some info about the standby queue.

    The play was even better than I remembered. Overall, I’d say the biggest difference between the opening night & one week later, was the absence of opening-night jitters. The cast seemed bolder – physically & vocally – more confident with their lines (& no mike problems!) & footing. I tried to take note of the little things – since it’s those little nuances that can make an actor’s performance so them – part of what I love about theater – you can get something different every night out of the same play. Things like the Weird Sisters hopping over bodies on the stage, rather than walking around them. Liev tossing wine glasses aside & toppling over more chairs. There was definitely a more intense physical element that added to the play more so than before.

    Other changes that I noticed: Right after Macbeth murders the King, a maid comes out & addresses the audience (one of the funniest bits of the play) talking about the “Knock knock knocking” she hears & making references the to devil. They now had spotlights on different sections of the audience – and the maid would zero in on some poor audience member & refer to them as a politician, or a priest & make a wicked remark about them – it was good.

    Also had the chance to notice the lighting more. Like during the end battle scene when the soldiers are being bombed – they had spotlights flash on the trees behind the stage, as if there were bombs landing all around – it was cool. In that battle scene they also took away the camouflage netting that the soldiers wore when the marched up (as if they were camouflaged as trees in the forest) – I guess they netting got too tangled on their swords & guns (which is what happened the first night) & they just did away with them.

    The swordfight that Liev has at the end was superb. They really had it down, it seemed less choreographed & more like an actual fight to the death (and blood actually spurting out of his neck - I hadn't noticed that before!). Which brings me to Liev, ah… Liev… his performance was as strong as ever. When he speaks, he just commands your attention. The more I watch it, the more familiar the words seem to me – less Shakespearean & more just entertaining – as if I were watching some everyday event. I love the wordplay – Liev has some really great lines – saying them with just the right jab or pause – great laughter from the crowd as they pick up on his intentions. Love it. Even the most common lines… “a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” (which I think I had to memorize in the 7th grade or something – I was clueless back then) makes so much more sense to me know in the context of how his character is reacting.

    Liev & Jennifer had great chemistry once again. She was even more fierce with him – at times clamping her hand over his mouth to stop his words (I wonder if they rehearse those, or if they just try to surprise each other onstage?). At one point, she stroked his head and muffled his mike by accident (the actors wear mikes that go up the back of their necks & through their hair, with the mini-mike just on the their forehead). Which just goes to show how involved they are in their characters, forgetting their technical modern surroundings.

    And for the usual blog trawl, there's a critique from Sandwich Cake who thinks Ms Ehle's channelling Faye Dunaway. In the "I came, I saw, I liked" category there's Schreiber fan Megan who's "seen him on stage an Nsync amount of times", Laura who thought the play "amazing" even though Hamlet isn't her favourite play and Shakespeare in the Park diehard Qsoz, whose description of the queue I find amusing.

    Tonight at 6pm there will be an interview with Liev Schreiber on XM radio for the American Theatre Wing's Downstage Center program. This will be online as a mp3 in a few days, no doubt.

    By the way, the news about The Coast of Utopia is being syndicated everywhere from Halifax to the North Korea Times (no joke!). There's no new content, which is why we're not posting them.

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    Blogosphere chatter

    Bipolar, Hilary Clinton, Cole Porter ingenue, Grace Kelly and now country club trophy wife. Most intriguing, the range of reponses to Jennifer Ehle's Lady Macbeth. The latest is from Lynn's LJ.

    Macbeth was fantastic. There are no bad seats in that theater. The performance was amazing. Liev Schreiber has my everlasting respect as an actor. Jennifer Ehle played Lady Macbeth very close to the chest, which I appreciate. She was like the most conniving, blonde country-club wife. Not the ham-fisted dripping-with-evil interpretation. Just an overly ambitious trophy wife playing with forces she doesn't understand. I'd never seen it performed before, so this was a treat. The weather was fantastic, and considering it's really just a ghost story, the weather was really conspiratorial. There were times when a breeze picked up that were uncanny considering the dialog on stage. And there were bats, of course, drawn by the lights. Also appropriate.

    But the highlight for today is the first in-depth thematic review of Macbeth, by Mr Moreno-Uribe of El Espectador Venezolano. As you might've guessed, it's in Spanish. For once the Babelfish translation is somewhat comprehensible; below is a loose cleaned-up excerpt. The complete review puts great emphasis on the contemporary war theme and is really worth a read, especially for Hispanophones. This photo accompanies the review, click to enlarge it.

    Everything demonstrates the great professional quality of those participating in this singular "artistic war" against war. There is no time to become bored or to escape that beautiful theatrical space in the middle of the forest, although we recommend that the interval be cut, because the public can thus have more time to go to therapeutic cafes and bars to converse about the sight [?] and to praise the good performances in general, but particularly those of Liev Schreiber and Jennifer Ehle, who incarnate the monstrous Macbeth couple, models of those who pursue both power and pomp, without realizing that everything must have a end, and who paid with their lives and their eternal condemnation if a punishing God truly exists.

    Catholic and lefty, how confusing!

    To wrap up the Macbeth stuff for today, Magpie finds parallels between Harry Potter and Macbeth...! There's also a note by Dave - a different one - who says that Gwynneth Paltrow's mum attended the show (and his wife argued with her about a picture of Ms Paltrow in the program!). [edit: apparently, not everything on the net is true. Who'da thunk!]

    Moving on to The Coast of Utopia - Douglas Henshall fan Dianne speculates that Ms Ehle might be doing the roles that Eve Best played, which appears highly plausible. Those characters are Liubov Bakunin, Malwida von Meysenbug and Natalie Herzen. Incidentally Mr Henshall was in This Year's Love with Ms Ehle as well as some of the RSC plays. He performed in the 2002 production of Utopia.

    Finally Missyisms (who did the Pride and Prejudice roundup before) reviews The River King.

    More from Dave

    Dave's the one who articulated the bipolar theory below. Gracias to him for letting this extra bit of our correspondence be posted. He gives this caveat in advance:

    I am in no way any type of theatre authority nor can I claim being correct in Ehle's interpretation. This was just how I interpreted what I saw that particular night.

    And continues thusly:

    It really was a big departure from the normal Evil Queen-from-Snow-White interpretation where the Lady is simply power-hungry and cruel and then becomes a sniveling whiner and we are beaten over the head with the whole "this is what happens when...". I hope the critics take pause to realize she isn't being so cookie-cuttered and it really worked but it did take a bit of time to process. I've noticed that when Ehle's various characters get excited, whether it be for good or bad, she talks quite quickly and as Lady M is in excitable circumstances, she really flies through the lines, and Shakespeare certainly needs a bit of time to digest! No one can fault her for lethargy, though.

    She is very funny doing damage control when Macbeth sees the vision of Banquo at the banquet and received lots of laughs over her reaction to Macbeth's "fit."

    As far as seeing it again, now that I know what to expect as far as the infamous line goes, I do believe I will try again. If the critics have any kind words (which they absolutely should but then again some of them don't seem to be seeing the same show I am) the line will grow even longer.

    Tess' report

    This is from Tess who went to Macbeth no less than thrice, last Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Thanks for sharing this.

    On Thursday, I was in line at 6:20 a.m. and was third in line. On Saturday, I came about the same time, and was 12th to 15th in line. I think you can get better seats on weekdays than weekends. I got second row, middle section. During the weekends is when the locals watch the play. Also, on Sunday, I decided to line up at the cancellation line and was able to get a ticket. I heard that there was a really long line Saturday night and yet everyone got a ticket.

    I know people didn't like JE's interpretation of Lady M and at first I didn't either. I thought she needed to be more over the top (like the queen in Once Upon a Mattress) but then I talked to a man in line and he said she may have been portraying a beautiful lady with an evil mind. More subtle and deceiving. And yes, he was right! She was funny when M saw the ghost. She also played down her craziness but effective I think. I watched her face closely with my binoculars and loved her facial expressions and hand movements. I loved it when she said started pulling on her left arm and said "What's done, cannot be undone." It's so much easier to just let go and get crazy but harder to perform a controlled lunacy. Oh, there is a Delacorte employee who comes around selling Shakespeare stuff. I recommend people buy the Mcbeth book. It's got the original script on the left page of the book and an interpretation on the right. It helped me understand what they were saying.

    I noticed that they would make little changes here and there since it is still preview, like entrances and body movements. At the end of the play, the three witches appear and say "When shall we meet again?" and then they look towards the audience. Last night, they didn't turn at all.

    For stargazers (and Sunshine fans) among you, Tess adds that Ralph Fiennes is happy to sign after Faith Healer if you have a Playbill, even if you didn't watch the show. Julia Roberts will also sign if you have a ticket.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006


    You will not believe this. Our cup runneth over! There's a new project in the works!!

    This just in via USA Today:

    NEW YORK (AP) — The New York production of The Coast of Utopia, Tom Stoppard's trilogy of plays lasting more than nine hours, will feature a cast that includes Billy Crudup, Ethan Hawke and Martha Plimpton, it was announced Tuesday.

    Lincoln Center Theater will devote much of its 2006-07 season to Utopia, the collective title for the three works. Among the other, more than two dozen actors in the mammoth production will be Richard Easton, Jennifer Ehle, Josh Hamilton, David Harbour and Brian F. O'Byrne.

    Utopia, which will be directed by Jack O'Brien, focuses on a group of 19th-century Russian intellectuals, including novelist Ivan Turgenev and radical theorist Alexander Herzen, over a turbulent 30-year period.

    It starts with Voyage, opening Nov. 5, moves on to Shipwreck, opening Dec. 21, and finishes with Salvage, opening Feb. 15. The engagement at the Vivian Beaumont Theater ends March 11.

    During the final three and a half weeks of the run, theatergoers will be able to see the plays in succession — including three dates (Feb. 24, March 3 and March 10) when all three can be viewed in one day.

    Praps "oh, Toooom" worked!

    And a footnote about Michael Clayton - the word on the street (IMDB) is that it'll be due sometime in the first quarter of 2007, maybe February.

    PS. Have tinkered with the posting time so this stays up the top for a little while. Go down for the usual Macbeth stuff.

    Going a-googling

    Some random resources about Coast of Utopia, coming right up. Most relate to the 2002 production but give some idea about the story and style.

    Edit again: scratch the NYT, Variety has more details about the who-plays-what:

    In Utopia, O'Byrne will play the mid-19th century Russia radical theorist and editor, Alexander Herzen.
    Stephen Dillane essayed the part in London. Crudup will play literary critic Vissarion Belinsky. Hawke is the aristocrat-turned-anarchist Michael Bakunin and Hamilton will be the poet Nicholas Ogarev. Easton, Ehle, Harbour and Plimpton will be featured in multiple roles throughout the three-part work.

  • BBC's brief synopsis of the trilogy
  • Playbill has pages for all three parts up: Voyage, Shipwreck and Salvage
  • Complete Review collates reviews from the 2002 production of Voyage, Shipwreck and Salvage. Also, t2k reviews the whole trilogy.
  • The National Theatre's site with a list of some characters; has descriptions of some of the roles. Let the speculation begin!
  • Tom Stoppard writes about the trilogy in The Guardian
  • Various news articles about this production
  • Pinky's report

    Reports are flooding in at the moment. Thanks everyone, we appreciate it. This one's from Pinky of EhleNews.

    We were in row P in the center. The theatre is not that big plus it's stadium seating so the sight lines on any of the seats are good. It was a warm good night but there was a breeze so that it was so great to be outdoors watching a great Shakespeare play with great actors! The play started a little later than 8:30 because they were waiting for it to be darker to get more of an ambiance i guess.

    As the audience comes in, Dunkan the king is sitting in the middle of the stage (in character). There were wounded soldiers laying on the floor and some hanging on the scaffoldings on the stage. I tried discretely to take a pic of the stage before the play started and was caught by an usher ooops!I must say, the staging of the play was really amazing. How the stage moved and changed scenes particularly the scene when Macbeth was being confronted by Malcolm and MacDuff was really well staged.

    But enough of that how did the actors do? Well Liev Shrieber was really wonderful as Macbeth. He had such strong stage presence and was just fit for the role. As for JE.......well what can I say? But, what perfect comedic timing! I know I know I too have read the posts particularly the message boards in Well, who knew that? I was prepared to watch this heavy play which is my favorite but it was a refreshing surprise that the play could be done that way with some comedy bits. It was wonderful to witness JE with how she would take certain pauses to say her lines could get laughs from the audience and yet it still works! During intermission 2 ladies discussing the "comedy" aspect of it. One said she did not like it Lady Macbeth should have been more dark but her friend said....wait just listen again and watch her because she is getting the audience's laughs and it works! I think she just goes from 1 extreme to another like a bi-polar personality....even with the energy with how she moves. ----> see that was how I saw her part too. I just couldn't put a finger on it. the best scene for me was her nightmare scene of Out Damed was so powerful! It was also nice to see in 1 scene (I think it was during her scene with Macbeth before he was suppose to see the 3 witches) when her face changes from a warm smile to a cold steel heartless lady.....amazing! I guess this is where people in broadway world were saying that she is trying to channel Meryl Streep (she was that way in the Manchurian candidate).....well don't mind them. Those who can't do criticise. She was good! I think this comedic interpretation might be because of how she is directed to play the part. It is very refreshing though.

    Well, my friends who were watching with me and have seen previous Shakespeare in the Park said that it was so nice seeing 2 actors on stage that are on equal level and having the same strong stage presence. Mind you they're not JE fans. One friend even said Lizzy is very good! They said it's one of the most satisfying theatre experiences.

    As for the costumes....this one guy behind me said as JE did her entrance "She's hot!" Ha ha that got me to lose concentration on the play. Well there's this scene the coronation scene where she was wearing white gown......she just looked like Grace Kelly! Really Gorgeous!

    Anyway, at the curtain call, when JE came out.....there was no standing ovation but I heard a lot of Woo-Hoo's. Liev didn't get a standing O either but as the whole ensemble took their final bows......about 3/4 of the audience gave a standing O. IT was a really wonderful production.

    It took some time to get out of the theatre but we headed for the stage door afterward (which incidentally is in Gate 1for those of you who'll watch it in the future). We get to the stagedoor and waited for about 15 minutes. Liev comes out to talk to the friend but returns inside the theatre. With that the stagedoor lady said that the actors were rehearsing until 1 am that night but if we were waiting for Jennifer Ehle she's left already. I knew it! She's so fast getting out of the theatre! I saw her in the Philadelphia Story and she was one of the first out of the stagedoor back then! Anyway, it was still a wonderful night.......Central Park, the stars, Belvedere Castle in the background, Shakespeare but most of all Liev and Jennifer!!!!!

    She's also sent some photos from around the theatre. Captions are hers.

  • Poster at central park entrance
  • Delacorte Theatre and Macbeth marquee
  • Man playing bagpipe....don't know if he's part of the public theatre or if he just came out to play his bagpipe
  • Macbeth playbill
  • The stage before the play starts

    On a separate note, it occurs to us that perhaps the lack of success by everyone who's tried to get autographs this week may be an indication of her discomfort with the stage-dooring thing. If so, we revoke our request for stage door photos and stories, though we continue to welcome your opinions and reports on the performance. Of course you can continue to try your luck; this is not an official warning from the powers that be or anything. We just want to reiterate that her privacy is paramount, and err on the side of caution.
  • Macbeth bits and pieces

    Jason, a fan of both Macbeth and the World Cup:

    wednesday night was yet another treat. elvira and siblings had a spare ticket for shakespeare in the park and i was of course up to it, knowing how good those central park plays are and how difficult getting a ticket is. macbeth did not disappoint. liev schreiber (known for scary movie and the manchurian candidate) and the rest of the cast did well. also, seeing the play in an open theater under the backdrop of stars, trees, and um flying airplanes was quite magical. and as always, was nice being surrounded by a group of dutchies (especially that the germany win that day was a good starting point for conversation).

    And from Kerri:

    So I forgot how AMAZING New York can be in the summer...even if it means sweating constantly! So I've had a great past week! Last Thursday I went to see Shakespeare in the Park...Central Park! And let me tell's no ordinary Shakespeare in the Park. The tickets are free, which is great, and it is in an actual open-air theater in the heart of Central Park. It was like a production at the Guthrie, but outdoors! Simply amazing! So the play was Macbeth, which I've only read and never seen, and it was spectacular!! Liev Schreiber (the actor) starred as Macbeth, as well as some other famous theater actors and Magda, Miranda's housekeeper from Sex and the City!! It was so incredible! I want to see it again! Liev is my new handsome!

    From Bethany's LJ:

    Last Thursday I took in Macbeth, the Public Theater's first offering at Shakespeare in the Park. Liev Schriber and Jennifer Ehle star, but more importantly my best friend of 18 years, Hollie Hunt is in the ensemble (and she understudies Lady Macduff, two of the witches--one played by the woman who played Magda on Sex in the City, the porter, and then a messenger).

    While my fingers are crossed someone takes ill or has heat stroke and Hollie gets to go on in one of her understudy roles, she was fabulous in her silent stage debut. She is featured prominently in one of the scenes (I won't mention here in case any New Yorkers are going to see it.) and is paying her dues in a most auspicious production. Liev was captivating. His performance was layered and he has a sensuality that seeps in, even while he is trying to hold it back. Jennifer Ehle, who looks like a young Meryl Streep was less earthy and shone more in her solo scenes than in any shared with Liev, but it is still a production worth catching.

    And, I get to catch it again. Hollie was given two tickets for opening night and she invited me and an actor friend to attend and to go to the afterparty to do some star gazing.

    Look at the comments, where she says that they had rehearsals til 2am after the show. Hard work.

    LionessInWinter gives a mixed review at BroadwayWorld (same thread as before, and the extreme owch warning applies if you venture to page 1).

    "Liev to the Fullest"

    This was an article from with some quotage from Jennifer Ehle about Liev Schreiber's Macbeth.

    Schreiber's intensely serious approach to his work earns nothing but praise from his colleagues. Says Macbeth's director, Moisés Kaufman, "Liev is amazing, the strangest animal. He is a virtuoso actor, with equal parts intelligence, talent, and heart. He has a piercing intelligence coupled with impeccable craft, not unlike Yo-Yo Ma," a duality that Schreiber evokes in his portrayal of Macbeth, the director suggests. "Macbeth is a man of great conscience, and Liev has the sensitivity to show that part in addition to Macbeth the warrior. Liev captures both those qualities and brings them to life gloriously. Liev is also good with a sword."

    Adds Jennifer Ehle, who plays Lady Macbeth: "Liev brings an enviable mastery of text. He appeared to build an intellectual scaffold, and when it fell away, a warm character emerged with the choices internalized."

    Ehlenews review

    Of Macbeth, by Ann.

    I saw Macbeth on Saturday night. After reading some of the online reviews, I am amazed. My friend and I enjoyed it. The theater was full and I didn't notice anyone leaving at intermission. There was enthusiastic applause (some standing) at the end. I am a fan of Jennifer's and I have never disliked her work, so I am not the most reliable reviewer, but the woman next to me had never heard of Jennifer. At intermission, she told me how much she liked Jennifer's performance.

    Unfortunately, I don't have any stage door stories. I didn't know where to look, there were a lot of people, and it was very late. I was just happy to have seen her perform again.The experience of waiting for the tickets was very pleasant. I got there at 9 and got to sit on a park bench in the shade for 4 hours. There were interesting people to talk with and wonderful dogs to look at. It did make for a very long day, so I made a donation and got another ticket for July.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    "Pitch perfect"

    Now look at this, a lovely warm review from puck at the Liev Schreiber forum.

    having never seen macbeth before, i was impressed by the lady macbeth character. playing her, ehle was elegant and strong, loving and ambitious, smart and hysterical. every line was pitch perfect, taking words that have been acted 1000 times before and could easily turned into cartoonish melodrama, but instead making it sound as smooth and natural as me trying to decide or what to order for dinner or what kind of haircut to get. she felt like a real person who just lacked a conscience about doing awful things. she reminded me (and my friends) a lot of meryl streep, maybe reprising the role from the manchurian candidate. Think needless to say, the interaction between mac and lady mac was exciting.

    at first liev was kind of reminding me of previous roles such as the man can, henry V...but then he cranked it up to a whole new level. he was so ON; as the character evolves from thoughtful, ambitious but mostly regretful guy to stark raving lunatic, he is so committed and real and right feeling in every intonation, every glance, every posture, every flying bodily fluid. i can't say i really understand who macbeth was and all his motivation but i could believe he was real and standing in front of me tonight. you just want to keep your eyes on him the whole time and see what's going to happen to him next. i've never felt so involved and moved by any shakespeare drama before. i don't have that much experience, but it is the best i've seen him. what a presence and a master. i'm thinking of seeing this again for the chance to take it all in.
    my 5 year old side may miss the slapshtick and bawdy puns of those shakepeare comedies, but the impact of this play and it's performances was a fantastic new discovery that is touching in a whole new way. it's a little harder and longer to warm up to it, but once you catch on it's hypnotic and leaves you wanting more.
    just as an aside, my father used to teach english and has taught macbeth and seen it numerous times. he found the performances to be excellent and commented that it was the "clearest" production he had ever seen. i guess parts of it had never made sense to him before, but this production and the performances must have made sense out of it.


    This is too funny - kariza takes exception to the lefty flavour of Macbeth.

    I saw MacBeth last night with a friend at the Delacourte Theater in Central Park. I had looked forward to this. MacBeth is one of my favorite plays and is rarely performed. What we saw was a leftwing version of MacBeth complete with George Bush's voice booming out at us at the beginning of the battle scenes; anti-Catholic priest jokes which are not in the original play; three witches who are referred to as the "Three Weird Sisters" (as if they were a punk rock band) and a Lady MacBeth who behaves like Hillary Clinton. I simply did not care what happened to these characters. The notes in the program refer to Scotland - and the United States - as "a country divided by war". The war at the beginning of MacBeth is only incidental to the main action of the play. The play is really about MacBeth's ambition to be king and the ambition of his wife. The two of them have no doubt about what they want and what they will do to achieve it. There are also jokes about "equivocating politicans" which are not present in the original. MacBeth is played by Liev Schreiber who is a big leftwing actor. I am appalled at what has been done to this masterpiece. Shakespeare gloried in war - Henry V is an example. Moises Kaufman has destroyed a masterpiece. This is what happens when you allow the lefties to direct plays! If I want to see a "politicized" MacBeth, I will read MacBird, which savaged LBJ.

    Heh. Laura Bush would make more sense with this reasoning, no?

    If you Ctrl-F in this full text version of Macbeth you'll see there are, of course, mentions of the "three weird sisters" and equivocators. But then again, MIT might be in on the conspiracy.

    Waiting time in the boroughs

    Earlier we let you know about the alternative distribution sites for Macbeth ticket vouchers, in the boroughs. Next Saturday is in the Bronx.

    Apparently the waiting times at these locations are a fair bit shorter than at the main Delacorte and Public Theater box offices. Someone who went to the Staten Island one last week said that they could get tickets at 11am, and the line had started forming at 9am. About 200 ticket vouchers were available, two per person.

    Don't know how generalisable this is to other boroughs, but you might get lucky.

    Manic-depressive Lady M?

    Joan isn't too happy about Lady Macbeth being played as crazy, but this report by Dave might just explain the unusual interpretation. Thanks to him for e-mailing this in.

    When doing a quick search to prepare for my attempt at getting tickets yesterday, I found your blog quite helpful, but was saddened to see the criticisms towards Jennifer Ehle and was nervous about seeing her with a mediocre performance.

    With Ehle being the sole reason I went, I was initially confused with her interpretation of Lady Macbeth. Almost all productions I've seen have played her as dark, sly, evil. When Ehle first appears and reads Macbeth's letter, I started off agreeing with the notion that she was just kinda saying lines and not really getting the emotion across. I wasn't getting the passion she would have for starting such mayhem. This had me heartbroken as I've seen her in Real Thing, Design for Living, and just happened to be in London during Philadelphia Story (and with Adrian Lukis as Dexter!) and loved her in everything. Biased? Certainly. BUT... when she and Macbeth reunite and she flies through her lines about the plot, particularly when she does the whole bit about smashing the baby's brains out and with no obvious grief about stooping so low, it starts appearing that she is playing Lady Macbeth as being bipolar, just spitting out ideas with little or no thoughts to the serious consequences. The rapid speaking and the eventual sleepwalking makes it even more apparent. When she does the "Out, damned spot!" business, she races down the steps and later races back up them, a huge departure from the normal interpretation of the Lady poking around like a whining zombie. Again, Ehle's energy makes her seem much more obvious of doing something really extreme to cause her later suicide, like jumping out of the palace window or slitting her wrists. Go to and every item could be checked off for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth.

    And during the coronation scene, when she walks out on stage in the gown, she is STUNNING!

    I loved it and was glad I waited four and a half hours until the ticket was in my hand....

    Macbeth roundup

    Are you comfortable? First, this report from Not Liz.

    Last week held one truly magnificent piece of New York-ishness: that is, seeing Macbeth, starring Liev Schreiber and Jennifer Ehle, for free in Central Park. Two lovely ladies I know took the day off work and waited in the line from 6 am till the ticket booth opened at 1 pm, and thanks to them, the three of us sat fifth row center, sipping cheap French wine from paper coffee cups, as the performance unfolded later that night.

    The performance was excellent, and I loved the venue. It reminded me of American Players Theater in Spring Green, WI, where my parents took me and my brother to see crass quantities of Shakespeare while we were growing up. This particular performance also illustrated one of my favorite aspects of outdoor theater -- the ways that the weather can impact the atmosphere of the performance. As Macbeth was railing about killing his umpteenth perceived human obstacle to greatness, the wind picked up and it started raining in large, sparse drops. Very dramatic.

    She also has a photo of Mr Schreiber in shorts...!

    Anu enjoyed the show as well:

    Chatting, snacking, watching people walk their dogs, observing kids playing, seeing joggers pass by and enjoying the beautiful day with its cool breeze, I spent Saturday morning with a group of friends in-line for tickets for the Public Threater's presentation of Shakespeare in the Park play Macbeth.

    Macbeth is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays (my absolute all time favorite is 'Hamlet') and I was really looking forward to the performance. The play was staged in the open-air Delacorte Theater, starting at 8:30 pm. And it was absolutely amazing! Liev Shreiber's performance as Macbeth and Jennifer Ehle's role as Lady Macbeth were par-excellence! Watching the play in an open air theater with a gentle breeze and the night stage lit up with lights was a pleasant and enjoyable experience. One of my favorite parts of the play is the soliloquy of Macbeth, in which after hearing the news of the death of his wife, the Queen, he reflects upon life:

    "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day"

    Click through to see the rest of the speech and some photos of Central Park.

    Next, from Julie:

    Saturday was camping out for Shakespeare in the Park tickets, then a nap, then a thoroughly delightful rendition of Macbeth in Central Park at sunset. It was seriously amazing. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to follow the dialog or the plot, since it's been a long time (5 or 6 years) since I have read it. Liev Schreiber was Macbeth and he was HOT, even while on a murdering spree. It was so much fun to be in an audience who all stood in line 4 hours on a Saturday to see Shakespeare and who laughed and gasped at the appropriate moments. Chris and I are thinking about going back after reading up on the nuances of Macbeth, so maybe we'd understand more. But it was fabulous and everything I always imagined Shakespeare in the Park would be.

    And finally, Kerry's detailed account of the wait and the show. It's quite long so click through to read it. She also sent in a video from the queue and photos around the park, which will be uploaded later.

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Not a Macbeth quote.

    For once. But it is a Macbeth report, from Michele on a Colin Firth board.

    Since the play is still in previews, there have been no "official" reviews as yet of the Shakespeare in the Park production of Macbeth. The bloggers' reviews have been mixed, and some have really blasted Jennifer Ehle's performance.

    I saw it last night with 2 friends and 3 of my kids, and we all enjoyed it very much. Honestly, I thought Liev Schreiber was superb as Macbeth. He has a commanding stage presence and a fantastic voice. The play was an untraditional production, with the cast in modern era clothing. My daughter remarked that Liev Schreiber's clothes seemed to be more form fitting than the other men in the cast, and with very nice effect! (Oh dear, her mother's daughter?)

    I am no expert on Shakespeare and this was the first time I've seen a stage production of Macbeth. My daughter is a high school English teacher and teaches the play, and it is her favorite, and she loved the production last night. The starting time of the play was deliberately moved back to 8:30 (generally the plays start at 8) because the director's thought is that Macbeth should be performed in the dark, and it really did have a dramatic effect on the play's atmosphere. The Burnham Wood scene, where the castle is laid under siege, is particularly effective, as the facade of the castle falls away to reveal the backdrop of Central Park's beautiful greenery, last night swaying in the breeze, and in the close distance, the view of Belvedere Castle, the "real" castle in Central Park, which is situated directly behind the stage of the Delacorte Theater!

    When Jennifer Ehle first appeared on stage, my immediate thought was of how gorgeous she looked. My 17-year-old son pronounced her "mad hot." My second thought (blush) was that she was the lucky woman who got to play opposite Colin both in P&P and in real life!

    If I have any criticism to make of her performance, it is that she was too glamorous a Lady Macbeth. Not "dark" enough, dressed in what appeared to be 30's-era clothing. My friend Janet said she played the role almost like an "ingenue," like she stepped out of the pages of Agatha Christie, and this morning I thought, "Cole Porter does Macbeth!" Still, I do not think she deserves the panning she has received from some of the bloggers. I really did love her interpretation of the "Out, damned spot" scene. She was wonderful to watch, and I think there was real chemistry between her and Liev in their scenes together.

    It will be interesting to see what the reviewers have to say next week.

    All in all, a solid, unique production, I really enjoyed sharing it with my kids, and a true "New York experience" under the stars in Central Park.

    Unfortunately, no photographs allowed.

    And another from Freckled Froggy;
    Wednesday night I snagged a ticket to The Public Theatre's free production of the Scottish Play at Shakespeare in the Park. For those of you unfamiliar with why anyone in theatre calls it "the Scottish Play," click here for an excellent summary. Liev Schreiber plays the eponymous murderous man-who-would-be-king, with Jennifer Ehle (of the BBC's version of Pride & Prejudice) as his scheming wife. Not the best I've seen, but I was there on opening night. The director's (Moises Kaufman) choice to set the play in the 1940's (complete with fabulous swing music and costumes) was inspired. For those keeping track, Liev is as tall as moi. Happily content.

    Sunday, June 18, 2006

    Round-up, round-up!

    Let's again break the monotony of Macbeth.
    Here's a blog roundup! (we all know you've been missing these)

    From Madame Voilanska Livejournal about Possession
    Mmmm. I do adore this movie.

    Every time I see this I wonder if they cast Aaron Eckhart and Gwyneth Paltrow (okay, so she IS the perfect Maud) so that the chemistry between Jennifer Ehle and Jeremy Northam would be amplified beyond belief. Oh man, the tension is HIGH. It's so beautiful. *sighs*

    If the whole movie were like the Victorian parts, it would be the best movie ever. And I do mean ever.


    (There's some cute comments too)

    Draco the Lizard comments on Wilde
    I think BBC 2 had some sort of Stephen Fry theme night. First there was a repeat of QI, which me, my brother, sister and their respective partners quite liked. They too like sciency things, and if it's wrapped in entertainment then that's a bonus. They especially liked the 'Make A Constellation' game and sniggered at Alan's evil smily face, which was quite genius. Although the locomotive was quite inspired as well. Too bad it wasn't the one where they had to make words on magnetic bords, as the put smarties tube on cats makes them walk like a robot is the most genius thing EVER.

    And then there was Wilde. I figured I'd watch it since a) I study English and b) It's STEPHEN FRY HELLO. The whole family caught the first half hour off that. I'm happy to say that:
    - My father thought it was mostly boring and wondered why some of the sex scenes were so blurry.
    - My mother was mostly offended by Oscar shagging Pretty Ioan Gruffudd five minutes after shagging Robbie Ross.
    - My sister and brother-in-law were wondering how appropriate this movie was regarding my study. My sister was also certain that Jennifer Ehle was playing Oscar's wife when I was still in the 'She LOOKS like Lizzy, but I want to check' stage.
    - My brother thought Oscar's hair was stupid and would not be convinced that the hair was quite fashionable at the time.

    And apparently it had Orlando Bloom in it, his debut role for a whole ten seconds. I must've completely missed that, as I only learned of it from Then again, with Stephen Fry in the movie, one easily misses someone like Orlando Bloom

    And The River King from Ishie
    We watched The River King tonight, about this boarding school boy who is bullied by his housemates and ends up being fished out of a frozen river. Things don't seem so bad for me in comparison. (The movie was excellent, btw. Highly recommended; Edward Burns gives a really strong performance and Jennifer Ehle looks eerily like Meryl Streep.)

    "Harper Lee Praises John Ehle"

    Here's an update from Press 53
    In case you missed it, last week I posted a note that we received a letter from Harper Lee, renowned author of Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Ms. Lee has been a longtime admirer of John Ehle's work, and she praised his novel, The Land Breakers, as well as Mr. Ehle's talent as a writer. In part, she wrote, "John Ehle’s meld of historical fact with ineluctable plot-weaving makes The Land Breakers an exciting example of masterful story-telling. He is our foremost writer of historical fiction."

    Sheryl called Ms. Lee and thanked her for reading The Land Breakers again and for sharing her valuable thoughts with us.

    We have finished proofing the re-typed text and are currently laying out the cover. We are on track for a mid-July release date, a month prior to the On the Same Page kick-off party, which is set for Sunday, August 27.

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    Pride and Prejudice editions roundup

    A wee break from the non-stop Macbeth. Missyisms has a photos and descriptions of all the different A&E releases of Pride and Prejudice, from the way-back-yon videos to the new collector's edition. Note that this doesn't include British and world editions.

    Have a look at the Photoshoppery they did to Colin Firth's hair! Compare the Special Edition cover and the latest one.

    Discovered via AustenBlog.

    PS. Nope, can't escape it. Owch, not-so-owch, not-so-owch #2, nice, disappointed and not nice.

    Fair and foul

    Livejournaler paceon's verdict on Macbeth:

    So I today i had to wait around from about 9:30 am to 1pm just to get tickets to see the play Macbeth in Central Park. But man it was soooo worth the wait! The cast was A-FREAKING-MAZING! and the whole scenery was too cool. There were a few quirks though, yet it had nothing to do with the performance but the rules.

    Those rules being about no umbrellas and no recordings or photos, etc.

    But alas, the lovefest is over already. An extremely critical review is up at BroadwayWorld's forum - click through only if you have very thick skin. Seriously. Here's the link.

    Early days yet.

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    All hail the Public!

    This why you should pay the $150 to sponsor the Public Theater. And write it into your wills. A zillion thanks to them for these pics!

    Am guessing that the first and last are from III.4 and the second from II.2.


    Interview with 'the weird sisters' from Macbeth:

    This is one of five pages.
    Caution be damned. The three women playing the Weird Sisters in the Shakespeare in the Park production of "Macbeth," previews of which begin tomorrow night, are not afraid to utter the scariest word in the history of theater. They do not fear the two modest syllables, the seven measly letters that have inspired heebie-jeebies among actors and directors for 400 years.

    Listen and learn, you cowering simps. These women will just come right out and say it: "Macbeth."

    Correction. They are a little afraid of the word. Hold on. Maybe they are more than a little afraid. Except that "afraid" doesn't quite capture it. What's the right way to put this? They are mildly creeped out by the word "Macbeth." Still, they are saying it.

    "I heard of a guy who was playing Macbeth who was run over by a car," says Lynn Cohen, who plays Weird Sister 3, as the character is listed in the program.

    "Oh my God," gasps Ching Valdes-Aran, Weird Sister 2.

    "I heard of another Macbeth who was shot in the jaw," says Joan MacIntosh, aka WS1. "The actors were coming out of a restaurant, I think."

    This is what happens when theater people gather to discuss what is arguably Shakespeare's goriest tragedy. They share "Macbeth" horror stories, which are all about freak accidents and perforated bowels. By universal consensus, "Macbeth" is the unluckiest play ever written, a work so fiasco-plagued, so thoroughly jinxed that it is considered bad form -- nay, it is considered flat-out reckless -- to speak its title aloud.

    "Most people call it 'The Scottish Play.' Or 'Mackers,' " says MacIntosh. "I know people who wouldn't be caught dead saying anything but Mackers."

    But here's the tricky part: What if you are actually performing "Macbeth"? Then what do you do? The guy's name is all over the text. You can't just substitute "Scottish Play" every time he's mentioned, can you?

    A few weeks ago, the newly hired cast members of this production, including the Macbeth of the show, Liev Schreiber, confronted this very question. When they gathered to introduce themselves in a rehearsal room at the Public Theater, the force behind Shakespeare in the Park, there was a lot of "Hello, my name is so-and-so, and I play so-and-so in the Scottish play." Nobody spoke the unspeakable. Not until the Public's artistic director, Oskar Eustis, explained that the superstition did not apply to anyone involved in a production while it is being produced.

    This makes practical sense. But if you avoided black cats your whole life it might be hard, one day, to take home a dozen, even if someone told you that black cats, at least for a limited time, are just pets. An irrational fear in motion tends to stay in motion. Superstitions have a momentum all their own.