October 25, 2011

Happy Tues. 35 degrees here, so the roads may be a bit slick, though there was not much ice build-up yet.

Did I mention that Saturday evening we attended the Fairbanks Shakespeare Theater production of Macbeth? I thought not. It’s a strange play, set in 12th century Scotland, with its famous “weird sisters” bewitching Macbeth, the loyal general, into murdering his king and houseguest Duncan so that he can become king himself as the witches in the opening scene prophesied. However, Macbeth is severely grossed out by what he has done (“I killed my houseguest!”) and goes a bit mad. Lady Macbeth likes the idea of being Queen, and she bucks him up by telling him not to be such a wuss. Macbeth experiences hallucinations—a dagger in the air, his murdered friend Banquo (who was a material witness, now made immaterial) sitting in Macbeth’s chair at the dinner table—further exasperating his unlovely spouse. However, as M warms to his mission in life, LM begins to lose her mind, which is not what M needed, because she pretty much reveals to everyone that they conspired to murder D to become K/Q. She even acts abusive toward the family dog: “Out, damned Spot!”

Midway through the play, the witches reappear to tell M he will be king until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill, where M’s castle is situated. Location x3. There is an early scene where Duncan’s entourage admire the flowers in M’s garden and speak of the mild breezes and birdsong there (but we know the snake has entered the garden). The witches also tell M “no man of woman born” will kill him. This all seems like good news, until near the end an invading army bent on exterminating the tyrant carries tree branches from BW to camouflage their advance on M’s castle. The last card is played when Macduff, whose family M has ordered slaughtered, reveals that he was delivered by C section at Edinburgh Regional Hospital. M, to his credit, though LM killed herself and did not live to witness it, challenges Mac—“Lay on, Macduff!”—and they duel to M’s death. Queen Elizabeth and her high officials—also those who did not smoke or drink—kept a close eye on plays depicting the overthrow or murder of monarchs, but this play apparently passed muster. (“Pass the muster and more corned beef, please.”) The production was fairly amateurish, but they had fun and the play is good enough to shine through a so-so performance. And the poetry is some of the best in Shakespeare M on hearing that LM is dead:

“She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”  — Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28

Enjoy Tues.

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