It is been over a year since I have returned from Europe and I realised that I haven’t yet written about Macbeth. Actually, there are quite a lot of things that I have been meaning to write about, both on this blog and on my travel blog, that I simply haven’t got around to doing just yet. I guess a part of it is because there is an awful lot of stuff that I could write about, and also with work and with other things that have got in the way, the amount that I have been able to write has been limited. However, of late I have only intended to post one post a week (and one post a fortnight on my travel blog), and there has been plenty of stuff for me to post that I guess letting a number of things drift isn’t all that bad. However, I did see Macbeth, and I should at least put some time aside to write about it.
Apart of me felt that it was a little ironic, with all the furore over Brexit, that this play was being performed by the Royal Shakespeare company around this time. Mind you, unless they had a crystal ball, I have a feeling that it may have been a coincidence that Cymbeline was being staged, though we must remember that Brexit didn’t happen in a vacuum, and there was a huge debate over Britain’s role in the EU and the European community in the lead up not only to the referendum but also the general election of 2015. The thing is that one of the major themes of the play, and it as just as important back when it was first performed as it is now, is the role of Britain in Europe, and how much influence should Europe have over British (or more precisely English) sovereignty.
While I have been to a few shows at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, in my mind it is more of a two-week party than a showcase of theatrical performances that are generally not picked up by the mainstream theatre (or are simply so amateurish that the mainstream won’t touch them). From what I recall of my time in Adelaide the Fringe basically consisted of an opening parade, the Garden of Unearthly Delights which was little more than a number of bars, a Ferris wheel, and tents where you will encounter the weird and wonderful. Mind you, as the Fringe has grown in popularity, so have the number of areas that are attempting to mimic the Garden of Unearthly Delights.
One day I was perusing the internet to see what Shakespeare plays were available on DVD. It probably had something to do with having seen a particularly good version of a play at the cinema as a part of the National Theatre Live productions, and I wanted to see if some of them were available for purchase (unfortunately, at this stage, this doesn’t seem to be the case). However my eyes fell upon a production of Richard II by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and it starred David Tennant. Most of us are probably familiar with him as Doctor Who, however, I had recently discovered that he had starred alongside Patrick Stewart (of the Star Trek and X-Men fame) in a version of Hamlet. As such, I made it a priority to get my hands on a copy of this DVD.
My original plan was to publish this post on the 23rd of April, which was the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. However, due to slackness on my part (and also my failure to actually do any research into the exact date) that unfortunately has not happened. Anyway, it was fitting that if there is one play that I would write about for the belated 400-year commemoration post it should be King Lear since it is probably my favourite of all Shakesperian plays (at least among the tragedies).
I was sitting outside a coffee shop in Melbourne one morning and a tram trundled past advertising a production of the Sophoclean play Antigone. Knowing that Melbourne trams have the really bad habit of advertising plays that have long since finished I jumped onto the internet and to my absolute delight discovered that it had yet to begin. I have only ever seen one Ancient Greek play performed in my life and that was an amateur production (though it wasn’t all that bad – its just that amateur productions tend to be a little different – the actors wander amongst the audience beforehand practising their lines), so I decided to immediately book my tickets.
Well, this year the Bell Shakespeare Company decided to put on a performance of Hamlet, quite possibly because it is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. This sort of baffles me though because Hamlet happens to be one of those plays that school kids have to put up with studying, and we all know the story about books that we are forced to study in school – they are hated.
Well, it seems as if Sir Ian McKellan is in the position where he can simply do what ever he wants, well when it comes to the theatre at least. Apparently the Chichester theatre approached him and asked him if he would like to do a play, and then proceeded to ask him what play he would like to do, considering he is one of those actors that has probably played every role out there. Anyway, he said that he wanted to give King Lear another shot, and fortunately for me, this particular production appeared on the National Theatre Live listing.
Well, it seems that I simply cannot get away from watching Shakesperian plays, even if the production is, in my opinion, somewhat sub-par. I am starting to understand why a friend of my really hates going to Australian theatre. Okay, being a regular attendee at theatres of Broadway, and regularly traveling to the United States to go to Shakespeare festivals probably does that to you, and while I have never been to the States, I have been to London, and seen performances in the West End and at the Globe and honestly, these more modern adaptations are really starting to get to me.