My Birthday Treat

Guess which one of these I saw last weekend?


This is the third time I have seen Macbeth. The first time was a BBC version on a VHS tape in my university library. I was bored stiff and had very little idea what was going on. The second time was perched on a rock hard bench during a Kurosawa season in a back room cinema in Granada, Spain. ‘Trono de sangre’ – Japanese with Spanish subtitles. I thought I was pretty hot stuff enduring that. (As I hobbled home, tears of boredom splashing onto the cobbled streets beneath my feet).

This time was better, though not much. Seeing my hero Jean-Luc Pica… I mean Patrick Stewart was a thrill. I was 4 rows from the stage, so I got a good look at him.

Whenever I see Patrick Stewart in anything, be it Extras or X-men or whatever, I always think, wow, he’s getting old; but he must look even older right now. I mean when was this thing made? 6 months ago? 12 months ago?

Strangely, I kept thinking the same thing when he was 8 feet from my face. I know it takes a little time for light to travel from one place to another, but not that long. I think I can safely say I saw exactly what he looks like right now. And I clearly need to go to the theater more if my brain can no longer accept a live performance as a live performance.

As for the play, I can’t believe I was an English major. I’ve been away from Shakespeare for so long that the first 20 minutes were just plain irritating. From then on, I was mostly confused and bored. I didn’t know who anyone was, why they were doing what they were doing or why I should care. In my defense I was very tired, but still, I thought I’d get a lot more from it than I did.

Occasionally my mind would drift into the proceedings and I’d enjoy a few lines of dialogue. Like listening to a rock song where most of the lyrics are obscured, but the odd chestnut creeps out at you. The flashy stage production and the enormous amount of blood did get my attention however. It reminded of the new Doctor Who, brash and overstated. The final scene with Pica… sorry, Macbeth’s severed head oozing with blood was disgustingly sumptuous. That is to say, I liked it a lot.

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in my ignorance. I was sat next to 2 women, both Picard fans, and both as dumbfounded as myself. One got her Treo out during intermission and we read from the Spark Notes to try and find out what we had just seen. A great thing about Americans, they’d never be embarrassed to do something like this. In fact, one woman said indignantly that you’d have to be a liar if you said you could understand the play on just one sitting.

Would I recommend going to see this play? Yes, I probably would. Though if you don’t know the play, you should read about it before you go. A lot.

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