21 March 2008

Macbeth at Folger Shakespeare Library

On Tuesday night Mike and I went to see Macbeth at the Folger Shakespeare Library. It's been extended to April 13 and they only have standing room available now, but if you have the chance you should go. It was awesome. One of the producers is Teller, of Penn and Teller, and he's incorporated some terrific illusions into the production.

When I first heard "magic by Teller," I'll admit I was skeptical, expecting flashpots and obvious trap doors. But I watched carefully and couldn't figure out the tricks! And he has a sense of humor with his magic, too. At one point all the actors on stage crowd around a certain area and I thought, "Oh that's so obvious that's where the ghost will come from," but I was fooled! The ghost came from the other side of the stage.

This Macbeth is a very hip, very accessible interpretation. Many of the lines that come off as stuffy Elizabethan in other productions are delivered comically. And Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are making out nearly every time they're on stage together. She was one sexy Lady Macbeth who commands anyone's attention. I liked the stage fighting; Mike thought it wasn't quite violent enough. There was plenty of blood though. They can only spill so much blood onstage before it becomes a hazard for the actors jumping around.

The Weirds were a little scary and the "Double, double toil and trouble" scene was a real show-stopper. Often it's overdone because it's what so many people are waiting for that it's a disappointment. This was certainly overdone, but in a fantastic, loud, musical, over-the-top way that I was staring wide-eyed, not sure if I should laugh or be frightened, or maybe clap and chant along. It was a very satisfying scene.

When we bought tickets, only "partial view" seats were available and we had to buy seats one behind the other. The view was still pretty good, though. I had to lean forward a few times to see the left-most side of the stage, but it's a small stage and a lot of the action happened right in the middle. No one showed up to sit next to Mike so for the second act we sat next to each other. I imaging whoever came in with the standing audience decided that where they stood had an even better view than my vacated seat. I'd say it's worth standing for. Wear comfortable shoes; it's 2 hours and 15 minutes long (including intermission).

If you can't make it to the show or you're a Shakespeare-ophile with no money, you can still visit the Folger Shakespeare Library. They have a small exhibit hall that's free, they do lots of educational programs, and there's a book store. It's a few blocks from the Capital South Metro station.

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