Sunday, 13 March 2022

Sign on, Macduff

 And so to the theatre, to see Macbeth. Reading this post's title one might be forgiven for thinking that in the director has given the Thane of Fife a UB40 rather than his being driven into exile and having his family slaughtered as Shakespeare originally intended. However, what I am clumsily attempting to describe is the production's inclusivity and accessibility, with both Macduff and his wife being played by deaf actors. They signed, with their lines being interpreted into speech via other actors, primarily Lennox. I thought that all worked rather well and avoided the obvious trap of it all coming across as a bit "What's that you say Skippy? There's a man trapped in the abandoned mine? And you were from your mother's womb untimely ripped?".

"Tyrant, show thy face!"

In fact Adam Bassett's display of grief when told of the death of his wife and children showed that great acting doesn't require words. The lines of the rest of the cast were, at the performance I attended, signed by an interpreter costumed and integral to the action rather than standing to the side of the stage, and much thought had clearly been given to the physical gestures which each speaker used to accompany the blank verse. One of the assistant directors is blind, and much was also made of how it would work for unsighted members of the audience. I'm afraid I don't think that aspect worked anything like as well. 

Overall it was good, with particular credit to Jessica Baglow's Lady Macbeth and to the choreographers of the battle scenes. The set, featuring an enormous working drawbridge, was also rather impressive.

As it happens, in January I saw the recent film version starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. Their ages (Washington, nominated for best actor, is even older than your bloggist, though sadly for him he doesn't seem to have aged as well as me) impel a different dynamic to the marital relationship, and one that worked a bit better for me.  I felt the film, with its obvious references to German expressionist cinema, the superior of the versions, but am glad to have seen both.

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