On Seeing ‘MacBeth’ with Patrick Stewart


The production was pretty cool. With video projections and what not. The militaristic set—I think the Times described it as “equal parts abbatoir, hospital, and dungeon”—reminded me a lot of the Stargate planet Kelowna and the Stargate Atlantis civilization of the Genai—both militaristic people using technology and design reminiscent of the ’40s.

Everything happened on this one set, with the actors wheeling out tables that doubled as gurnies or what not. The large opening in the back was set up to look like a freight elevator and was used to interesting effect in many scenes.

Projections were thrown against the two walls you see here, helping illustrate the supernatural (the three witches) or the inner state of a character. The elevator and projections were used to particularly stunning effect in the bit where Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost.

During intermission, I heard two guys talking about how the projections and sound effects might take away from the acting — that the actors wouldn’t have to emote as much because technology was expressing much of what they ordinarily would have had to without it.

Patrick Stewart was, of course, awesome, and the nerd factor in the audience seemed pretty high. I think a lot of ST geeks were out to see him (as was I).

Two things really made this an unpleasant play, though:

1.) The seating at BAM’s Harvey theater SUCKS A DONKEY’S ASS. It is SO friggin’ uncomfortable that I found it hard to sit back and focus.

2.) Some dude in our row puked during the final act. I have never read Macbeth nor had I ever seen it. The closest I’ve gotten has been Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (awesome, btw). Anyway, even though I’ve never seen this or read it, of course it’s so much a part of our culture that I’m hearing the original versions of so many clichés and bits of our verbal landscape — “one fell swoop,” “what has been done cannot be undone,” “eye of newt.”

So anyway, during Act V Scene V, the bit where Macbeth is going on about “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” and … wait for it … “THE SOUND AND FURY” … DURING THAT MOMENT … some dude in our row got sick and vomited.

I feel bad for the guy. How horrible would that be? Vomiting in public is embarrassing enough, but to have to do it in the theater, where it’s all shush-shush? My heart goes out to the poor man. But in all the commotion, I totally missed this speech — pretty much the moment when Macbeth realizes his tragic flaw, etc. etc.

Blah blah blah.